Da Couch Tomato

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I love all things meta. Like all things musical, I am more subjective than normal with all things meta and I tend to rate it a little higher even if it objectively sucks. But I'm not going to do that with Inkheart. It's not that Inkheart is bad. It's just too disappointing. It has all the things that would make me go pee. Meta, Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, and British accents. And because the world revolves around me, they even threw in Harry Zidler a.k.a. Jim Broadbent to make me happy. I thought I would finally wake up and enjoy the movie, with Harry Zidler in the picture, but Inkheart was so mundane that I spent the entire movie in salumbaba mode.

The funny thing is, what makes it so much blah is it's lack of trivial mundane character interaction. Let me explain. The movie starts off with a cheesy narration. Of how a person does not know she or he is a Silvertongue, until it's too late. What is a Silvertongue? Why, it's this person who can bring stories into life. Like real, in a way that the-character-comes-out-of-book-and-your-wife-goes-in-book-for-replacement-now-you-have-to-find-the-out-of-copy-book-to-bring-her-back-because-you-idiotically-let-your-book-burn kind of real.

Yeah, knowing a tad too late kind of sucks.

So, after the narration on how sucky Brendan Fraser's life's going to be, the scene cuts to title and then cuts back to the action. And when I say action, I meant the background music going tun-tun-tuh-duh-dun. Sure, they showed Brendan Fraser with his whats-her-name daughter, being all fatherly and daughterly in the van, before the background music sets off, but that's the only time I remembered they did. All their other interactions after that were I-love-you-dad! I love-you-what's-her-name!

You see, I can't possibly believe that. How can you expect me to believe in love if not for the little things? There was also this supposed sexual tension (crush, whatever) with Farid (a brought to life servant or something of the Forty Thieves), and what's-her-name. But I swear, Dustfinger (a brought to life anti-hero they kept on pointing out was selfish, no wonder he was) love-hates Farid was homoerotic. Yay for homosexuality! Yay for subtlety! The basic rule they tell us in writing class is "show, don't tell." Without subtlety, you're either going to end up too cheesy, or too fake.

But I'm not complaining about the actors. They did well. The characters were cheesy or fake because they lacked a little spotlight. What the movie gives is too much background music telling me that I should be scared, or grabbing my seat in suspense now, or saying "awwww" at the monkey. It's too much action without establishment. That's why even the action failed.

Okay, everything (except the actors) failed. The movie failed. So sad really. Especially for Brendan Fraser. Having this movie after that, that, that... what the hell would we call that Mummy 3? (It certainly wasn't a movie.) I wanted to watch Journey to the Center of the Earth just because he was in it, but Inkheart and Mummy 3 makes me think that Brendan Fraser, as my mother would say, "May balat sa pwet." Basically, I think 2008 wasn't a good year for him.



How I Met Your Mother. Season One

Why does the most loser character get to sit on the couch?
Hooray for single people!

How I Met Your Mother is like the coolest TV show on dating. And it works well with eighties kids, as that's the same age these people are.

I mean, sure I can relate, since Marshall is a second year law student, like me. But the real reason I can relate is because of the love angle. The Ted-Robin love angle, not the Marshall-Lily one.

Reasons to watch it:

1. Cobie Smulders as Robin Scherbatsky. Cobie Smulders is cute. Pretty. Gorgeous. Hot. Cobie Smulders is probably every straight guy's fantasy. Oooh...Cobie Smulders.

2. Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson. Say no more. The undisputed gold mine of quotable quotes in entertainment today. NPH (you only get your name in acronyms if you're really cool, and Neil Patrick Harris is beyond cool) is so quick and witty that I think more than half of his jokes are unscripted, coming straight from the top of his head. If every one of NPH's quotes were put on a t-shirt, you'd have at least one t-shirt for every day of the week. At least. And that's just season one.

But first, let's appreciate the fact that the show wouldn't be a success without the rest of the team. But still, I only watch it for Cobie Smulders, and Doogie Howser's quotes. And the Ted-Robin romance.

Oh, and one last note: Season One isn't about how I met your mother. It's about how I met your Aunt Robin. But you'd have to stay tuned for the other seasons to find out who the real mother is.

*some info from Wikipedia
pic from starpulse.com

How I Met Your Mother (Season One). USA. 2006-2007.

Rating: Eight out of ten.


Crank: High Voltage

Okay, what can I say about Crank: High Voltage?

1. It's the sequel to Crank, circa 2006.
I've never seen the first film. Or I might've, but I've totally forgotten about it. That happens sometimes. Especially when the film was boring.

2. It's a low budget flick.
Low budget. B-movie. Not even Amy Smart's acting, Geri Halliwell's cameo, or Jason Statham's abs can move this up to the A-list. But Clifton Collins, Jr. was okay.

3. Great editing.
Fast-paced, vomit-in-your-seat editing. Perfect match for the cranked-up storytelling.

4. Outrageous cameos.
There's the legendary David Carradine, Chester Bennington from Linkin Park, mixed martial artist Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine, and porn superstars Ron Jeremy and Ed Powers. Still not enough to make this an A-lister.

The verdict: Not for the faint of heart, as violence and gore are all over this picture.

*some info from IMDb
pic from getthebigpicture.net

Crank: High Voltage. USA. 2009.

Rating: Five out of ten.


Fast & Furious

Fast cars, and Vin Diesel's furious biceps. That's where they got the title from.

But seriously, I've just come to realize that it is very, very difficult to strike a balance between story and effects. You have to choose one or the other. Fast & Furious had the promise of a great storyline, but to tell a great story would have taken more time. That would mean more time for character development, and less time for car chases. And everyone knows people watched this for the car chases and not for Paul Walker's acting.

So, it's all fast cars and hot babes all the way. Typical male fantasy. Question: why do fast cars and hot women always go together? Answer: because hot women never commute. That was a joke.

Also, I've come to appreciate the special effects work in this film. A successful blend of old school movie magic, new school digital effects, and just plain old great driving. Seamless.

They say that this is the fourth film in the Fast & Furious franchise, but I say it's only the third. Then they say, "The third film is Tokyo Drift." Then I say, "What Tokyo Drift?"

Great cars. Great car chases. Great soundtrack. I only have one problem with this film, though. Why didn't Vin Diesel have sex with that hot-Latina-girl-who-looks-more-like-an-Eastern-European-vampire-than-a-Latina? Oh, Vin Diesel...you put your furious biceps to waste.

*pic from blog.automotiveaddicts.com

Fast & Furious
. USA. 2009.

Rating: Six and a half out of ten.

You may also want to read the review for Fast 5 a.k.a. Fast and Furious 5.


Monsters vs. Aliens

Finally...a proper movie. One that I've seen in the cinema. Alone.

Well, since I have no qualms at all about watching movies alone, let's just talk about the complicated world of computer animation.

You might have noticed by now that I can never write a review of a computer-animated film without mentioning Pixar. Pixar, Pixar, Pixar. But this movie was from DreamWorks. What?

Story-wise, DreamWorks Animation is catching up with Pixar, but the story is a bit---flimsier---than, say, Disney's Bolt. So my animation heirarchy right now is Pixar, Disney, and DreamWorks a distant third. That's because DreamWorks is still too---there's no other word for it---pop. Their movies are too pop. Why? Because of celebrity voices. I hope I'm making sense here.

Anyway, since this film has a star-studded cast, I'll just call attention to one of them: Seth Rogen as B.O.B the Blob. He is definitely the cutest character here. Apart from Insectosaurus. And Seth Rogen's laugh. I recognized his voice the moment he laughed.

So, all I have to do now is wait for Pixar's Up to hit the cinemas. And I do hope that happens like real soon.

*pic from celebritywonder.com

Monsters vs. Aliens. USA. 2009.

Rating: Six out of ten.
Seth Rogen's laughter: Priceless.


The Pink Panther Strikes Again

Like they say: Nothing beats the original.

Despite the decades since its release (this film actually premiered the same day as my birthday, but in 1976) up to now, one can safely assume that slapstick comedy transcends time. It was funny then, and it sure as hell is funny now.

And the great thing is, director Blake Edwards doesn't focus too much on the slapstick. It sort of just happens. And aside from the physical comedy, we have Peter Sellers, whose lines in the movie are simply classic. For me, John Cleese and Peter Sellers belong to that exclusive league called "Old, Handsome, and Riotously Funny British Males."

And again, Steve Martin's remake of Inspector Jacques Clouseau may be funny, but like I said, nothing beats the original. Peter Sellers is still the best.

*some info from IMDb
pic from dryden.eastmanhouse.org

The Pink Panther Strikes Again. UK. 1976.

Rating: Eight out of ten.



I was making a review about this movie involving engkanto(s?) when the computer malfunctioned and started popping out continuous Internet Explorer windows. That itself is freakier than the ending of the movie.

Anyway, as I was saying before the engkantos intervened with their magic powers to make me paranoid:

"We suck with CGI okay? I mean, creatively we don't but yeah, technically, we suck big time. So stop using it, please? I mean, okay, use it, but to a minimum extent. To that minimum that it won't fuck up the film. But then, I guess that's not the only problem T2 carries."

There. Where was I? Oh, got it. I was first going to complain about the ending. (This is why I love reviewing; it's one of those things where it's not really that annoying to complain, I guess, unless I'm the big company who produced another sucky film. Haha.) The ending was so out of place. I mean, you knew it was coming, this...out of place-ness. But you'd still think it was out of place. And still be pissed. Because the middle parts of the movie were actually good. It was actually scary. I kept covering my face and bashing my movie buddy's poor shoulder in the theater, because I just knew that I wouldn't be able to sleep that night. The movie used the old folklores really well. It was as if I was a child again, listening to my yaya tell me never to look back when someone calls "pssst" because yep, mumu. I also have to mention that fantastic scene where men in suits glided through hallways leading Maricel Soriano in the child's room. Classic fun. It reminded me of The Gentlemen in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Because, really, silence and gliding creatures are the cornerstones of an effective horror flick.

But everything goes wrong when, as my movie buddy aptly called it, magic lampara appeared to save the day. Really. There was also this thing with a giant baboy ramo in the building, transforming into a golem-like creature sticking on ceilings (probably a tuko?) but magic lampara saved the day so he flew away looking now like that first Big Bad you have to kill in House of the Dead II. This is how good T2 is, I tend to reminisce better experiences.

The problem with the Philippine horror genre is at the end, it forgets it was supposed to be scary. This also happened with Judy Ann Santos' Kulam. There was a funny safeguard moment in the end, I swear. Now with T2, it was as if Chito Rono insisted that he jabs his television series Spirits right up to the last moment which I'm sorry, I really have to emphasize---out of place. At the end, I was scratching my head saying, "Shet, Star Wars!" Star Trek, or something. The engkanto's paradise looked like a rip-off from a sci-fi/fantasy flick and the way Maricel Soriano escaped from it reminded me of The Mummy. But for me, it officially sucked (because I can be stubborn, I mean, we paid for that movie, it should be good!) when there was this whole narrated flashback scene to explain everything (but the plotholes prevented that). The only good thing though, John Lloyd was in that flashback scene. This is the part where I go "Eeeeeeeee!"

Also, Eric Fructuoso! The only other good thing about the movie! Other than that, you'd get an annoying kid that should be doing, or she might probably have done already, Nido commercials.

The movie stars Maricel Soriano as Claire who couldn't get pregnant, so her husband for an asshole is breaking up with her. She is a social volunteer of some kind who ends up with a "mission" to take orphaned Nido kid to new parents in Tenement 2 (hence, the so creative title). It wouldn't take brains to figure out engkantos follow Nido kid because Nido kid's mom is an engkanto.

Sorry, another spoiler. When my reviews start being a rant blog, I tend to, well, rant. And spoil. But you can still watch it. There are other what-the-fuck moments left to list down. It'd be fun to compare.



Nuovo Cinema Paradiso

Cinema...my favorite art form.

Which is why this film is part of every film school's curriculum. But the English-speaking world knows this film simply as Cinema Paradiso.

Most people would read this as the ultimate feel-good foreign movie, and that is where I would disagree. This film is about the death of the analog age, and the birth of the digital age. The movie-going experience of the olden days is gone; the act of watching films as a community, as a social gathering, has been replaced by private viewing in the confines of one's dwelling. The old cinematic traditions are gone, and the best way to relive them is through nostalgia. And this film has no shortage of that.

However, one cannot say that the classical filmmaking tradition is better than the modern way. They should not be compared; they are actually one and the same thing. Comparing the old cinema with the new would be like comparing the mop-top Beatles with the hippie Beatles, when they are actually one and the same. Cinema is a continuum; you can periodize it, but you cannot break it down into separate eras. Everything about cinema is beautiful, both the old and the new.

One last thing: It is my belief that a good director is one who can direct children. So for that, I heart Giuseppe Tornatore.

*some info from IMDb
pic from swiftywriting.blogspot.com

Nuovo Cinema Paradiso. Italy. 1988.

Rating: Nine out of ten.


Da Couch Tomato's New Secret Weapon

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to Da Couch Tomato's secret weapon. She is someone I discovered while browsing Multiply, and she's actually been reviewing films way before I even learned to blog.

Her writing style is as good as it gets, and I humbly believe her humor in writing is better than mine. We actually belong to the same organization, UP Quill.

Anyway, this blog needs a female voice as desperately as Joaquin Phoenix needs a shave. So without further ado, let me introduce Da Couch Tomato's newest writer, Claire.



Vacancy starts with Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale bitching about raccoons and squirrels. They drive into unfamiliar roads because people who bitch about raccoons and squirrels are probably lost and probably idiots. Eventually, they stumble into a cheap motel with complete stereotypes of Hi-I'm-Your-Friendly-Mechanic! and It-Is-I-The-Annoying-Motel-Manager-With-A-Moustache!

After fooling around with my movie buddy during the first fifteen minutes of boring character and plot building of the film, we hushed down to let the creepy set in. The couple eventually found tapes of strangers killing different people inside this certain room. They of course, eventually realize that this certain room is the room they're staying in. Loud knocking from doors to walls ensues, with no one out there to answer. The phone rings. Again, no one answers. The lights flicker on and off. The camera lightly but urgently shakes. The audience gets to see random images of screaming victims from the tape and fearful faces of Wilson and Beckinsale. The camera continues its light and urgent shaking. Then, everything goes dark.

Yummy classic stuff.

However, after the yummy stuff, I go back to fooling around with my movie buddy. For after being chased around inside the room by masked strangers who keep them from escaping, they manage to huddle in a corner and reflect about their dilemma. "What do you think they're doing?" Beckinsale asks. "I think they're enjoying themselves." Wilson answers.

How... existentialist.

And you know it's only going to suck more as the camera zooms out, we see the couple on a TV screen, and then we see the back of Mr. Moustache Manager. We shall call him Pringles from this point on (just for the heck of a shorter nickname). So anyhow, we see Pringles watch his recent little victims and all that is missing is a burst of evil mwahahahahaha.

I abhor Pringles. I believe he is the main reason why this movie went downhill to hell. First of all, you don't show the face of the psycho villain until you get to almost the end of the flick. Second, Pringles and his masked minions should be smarter for people who already videotaped thousands of their killings. They shouldn't have killed that policeman. The cops would send back other cops to investigate, freaking newbies. Thirdly, a villain who talks a lot is not scary. And really, Pringles is not even witty. If I were his victim, I would have immediately thought of going for the gun hanging on the wall in his reception area and shoot his annoying mouth shut.

Beckinsale did well. For that bitchy damsel in distress. The one who drops her cellphone while running (parallel to those damsels who always, always broke the heel of their shoe once they needed to run away like hell from the killers). The one who whines but does not actually do anything to help her husband. The one who cries. The one who breaks down because she has a flashback of their dead son, and how she is so sorry that the couple are going through a divorce, and then they both french kiss and make up, and then they almost have sex except they couldn't because there are strangers out to kill them, unless they invite the killers, and that would have been cool because orgies are cool. If it's still not obvious, I like unfunny sex jokes. Also, Beckinsale looks more boring than a doorknob in this movie.

I found Luke Wilson cute in this movie. Even if I could not stop cracking jokes about his nose, he did very well with the little character they gave him. They tried making him smart, just a little bit. Wilson tries reviewing the tapes to spot flaws and find out where the killers attack from. He's the one who figures out that there's a trap door on the floor. He's the one who rips a part of his girl's shirt and leaves it hanging on the window to mislead the bad guys. He's the one who instructs his girl what to do. He's the Manly Husband. Who gets stabbed, left bleeding on the floor for one night, but miraculously wakes up alive in the end. He's Superman.

I didn't really expect much from Vacancy. From the font of the title to its music, it wasn't pretending to be anything but a usual suspense, cooked to deliver a jump-out-of-your-seats flick. But we stayed in our seats. We ended up being like Beckinsale who kept whining and whining after the movie. It's probably the fact that it had a good premise, an almost good start. What destroyed it was the fact that Wilson, Beckinsale, and Pringles never seemed to have watched a single suspense flick in their entire lives.



Coming Soon: Where the Wild Things Are (With Trailer)

This is a repost from the 28 March 2009 entry, this time with the video trailer.

The monster's voice in this trailer is, I believe, James Gandolfini's. And the wild things here remind me so much of the monsters in Fraggle Rock, which the younger generations might not even remember.

Remember the golden rule: Never judge a movie by its trailer. But I trust Spike Jonze to do a great job.

And for more Where the Wild Things Are fever, check out bento artist Anna the Red's homage to Maurice Sendak (click here and here).

*video from TheFilmStage


Coming Soon: Bruno

Oh Sacha Baron Cohen, you are a damn genius.

His two other characters already have their own movies. This will be his third major character gracing the big screen.

From the looks of it, you can see the similarity in style between this film and Borat. And you can already guess how funny this will be.

Bruno is gay. Bruno is fabulous. And Bruno is funny as hell.

*video from Yahoo!7


Banlieu 13

I just love French cinema.

If you didn't like the movie, you can always say, "because it's French." And if you loved the movie, you can say "Oh, it's because it's French." So French cinema swings both ways. Whatever that means.

The action sequences in this film will make you ashamed you're not fit enough to swing through doors and windows, all while displaying your finely-chiselled abs. In fact, this film will probably turn you on to free running, which is what they do here all the time. Free running is actually descended from Parkour, an extreme sport slash free workout, which was founded by David Belle, who also happens to be the lead urban acrobat in this film.

This is another Luc Besson story, co-written by Bibi Naceri (who also played the part of Taha the gangster), and directed by Pierre Morel. And as always, Luc Besson stories are never short on action. And for the ultimate action homage, check out Taha's execution at the end, à la Tony Montana in Scarface. The only way to go is stoned out of your head with a mountain of coke.

Again, as action movies go, this one is a totally different treat from your usual Hollywood shoot-'em-ups. And like I said earlier, "it's French."

*some info from IMDb and Wikipedia
pic from lastico26.skyrock.com

Banlieu 13. France. 2004.

Rating: Six out of ten.


The Love Guru

Mike Myers's sexual innuendo is totally on a whole new level, and the green jokes come at you left and right in this movie. So instead of analyzing the elements of a successful sexual romp, again, let's go to what makes this film watchable in the first place.

Mike Myers: I get the feeling Mike Myers is not really good with accents. Yes, he can do some, like British and Scottish, but in this film, he is supposed to sound like an American with a slight tinge of Indian. But still, his Scottish accent keeps coming out. Which annoys the hell out of me. I mean, after Slumdog Millionaire, I've been very particular about Indian accents.

And speaking of accents...

Justin Timberlake: cannot do a proper French accent. He is supposed to play the French-Canadian Jacques "Le Coq" Grande (pun intended, his cock is indeed grand), and although he looks different with a moustache on, his accent, or whatever he has going on there, is just so damn distracting.

Sir Ben Kingsley: I honestly don't know how the producers were able to convince the great Ben Kingsley to make a fool of himself in this movie. But Sir Ben is such a good sport that I think this is just another day at the office for him, no matter how much the movie sucked. Oh, and Sir Ben's Indian accent is excellent. He did after all win an Oscar playing Gandhi.

And finally, the film's saving grace...

Ms. Jessica Alba: Just having Jessica Alba in this movie is enough to earn it a passing score. I love Jessica Alba so much. I want to sweep her off her feet. I want her to leave her husband for me. I want to wake up in the mornings and see Jessica Alba's face sleeping beside me. I want to---okay, you get my point.

Again, let me just make it clear that I watched this film because of Jessica Alba. The fact that it was a Mike Myers flick was only secondary.

*some info from IMDb
pic from collider.com

The Love Guru. USA. 2008.

Rating: Six out of ten.


Coming Soon: Little Ashes

This was released (according to IMDb) in 2008, but still soon-to-be released here (hopefully this year).

Robert Pattinson as Salvador Dali. Javier Beltrán as Federico García Lorca. Matthew McNulty as Luis Buñuel.

And Robert Pattinson as Salvador Dali. Check out the famous wide-eyed Dali pose at the end.

Yay. Robert Pattinson as Salvador Dali.

*video from traileraddict.com


Knocked Up

This is one of those films which straddles gray lines on genres. Most would classify this as a comedy. I would say this is a romance flick.

Knocked Up is the best romance movie I've seen in a long time. If you can't relate, you're probably a virgin.

We're all used to the common Hollywood romance formula. It almost always happens in sequence. Boy and girl meet, they fall in love, they have sex, girl gets pregnant. Here, it's quite the reverse. Boy and girl have sex, girl gets pregnant, boy and girl fall in love. If you can't see the romance in that, then give credit to writer-director Judd Apatow for pulling it off.

We see here again the common Judd Apatow posse, like Jonah Hill and Bill Hader of Superbad. There's also the hilarious performance of Paul Rudd (this is actually the first time I've seen Paul Rudd's funny side), and of course, the rioutous Seth Rogen, always in his element. But still, I have fallen in love with the gorgeous Katherine Heigl. If I would get someone knocked up, it has to be someone like Katherine Heigl.

The film might be a bit too long for some (a little over two hours), but the pacing is just perfect. It doesn't drag or slow down for anyone to lose interest. Aside from romance, it also tackles family life, which is actually pregnancy's very long sequel. I would actually want to say a lot more about this film, but I think it would be better if you just watched it for yourself. If you don't like romance flicks, or children, then hopefully after watching this, you'll start liking at least one of them.

*some info from imdb
pic from thevoidmovies.wordpress.com

Knocked Up. USA. 2007.

Rating: Eight and a half over ten.


The Devil Wears Prada

Viva la Streep.

I shall explain the title's double meaning later. We shall not dwell on the story anymore, as it is quite your usual predictable plot. So let's just talk about the acting. (Unless you want me to comment on the cinematography, which I'm sure nobody wants to hear.)

Anne Hathaway: Okay. Not great. Just okay. Have to remind myself to see Rachel Getting Married and check out her acting.

Stanley Tucci: Great performance. Subtle, yet totally amusing. Stanley Tucci is always a treat to watch.

La Streep: Excellent. No question. The first thing I was expecting when she first appeared in the film was that she would start nagging in a really high-pitched, bitchy voice. But lo and behold, once she opened her mouth, she broke stereotypes. Miranda Priestley is a bitch---but a soft-spoken bitch. Bitchy without even uttering a single word. Bitchy just by the way she looks at you. Oh, and the hair. I love the hair. I love you, Meryl Streep.

So, about the title. First, Miranda Priestley, the boss of Runway magazine, is the devil herself. You know, mean boss equals devil, that kind of thing.

Second meaning: the whole fashion industry is the devil. Once it swallows you, you'll come out better dressed, but with horns coming out of your head. The fashion world is the dark side.

But don't watch this for any philosophical insights between fashion and life. Just watch it for Meryl Streep. I love her so much that if I were a girl, I would be Meryl Streep.

*some info from imdb
pic from www.forum.militaryltd.com

The Devil Wears Prada. USA. 2006.

Rating: Seven over ten.


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