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The 2009 Top 12

Continuing the tradition of last year's Top 12 films, Da Couch Tomato again gives another recap of this year's Top 12.

Some films should've been on this list, but are not. Like Filipino indie films, for instance. Last Supper No. 3 would've tied for Number 1, and Dinig Sana Kita would've also tied for Number 4. I've decided to scrap them because independent films shouldn't be judged side-by-side with mainstream Hollywood cinema, as they use totally different standards. Zombieland would've tied for Number 4, but it wasn't released in the Philippines in 2009 (hello, Halloween). Kimmy Dora: Kambal sa Kieme would've also tied for Number 4, but the thing is, the Hollywood reviews far outnumber the local ones, and it would be unfair to pit them in the same category. If we had watched more Filipino films, then there would probably be more Filipino films in the Top 12.

Which is why this Top 12 has sadly become a Top 12 list of Hollywood movies for 2009. I am honestly ashamed of this, as I would very much like to saturate myself with local movies, like a true Filipino moviegoer. And so our New Year's resolution is to...watch more Filipino films. (But I've already said that last year...)

And again, this list is limited to 1) Hollywood films, 2) reviewed in Da Couch Tomato, and 3) released in Philippine theaters in 2009. By the way, you can click on the title to read the original review.

12. Star Trek

J.J. Abrams: You. Rock. And this film has established the new Hollywood doctrine: Prequels are the new sequels. George Lucas may have done it first, but J.J. Abrams did it better.

11. A Christmas Carol

We do not just applaud director Robert Zemeckis for a truly delightful and faithful retelling of the Charles Dickens classic. We salute him for his dedication to the development of the art of motion-capture. Like Nikola Tesla, critics may laugh at him now, but they will be kissing his ass in the near future when motion-captured performances become better than the real thing, and biological actors become obsolete.

10. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

This should win an award for "Darkest Harry Potter Film Ever". Although we would've preferred it if they showed us tons of action, and the bloodiest fight scene ever in the wizarding world. Well, they attempted. But it just wasn't bloody enough for us.

9. Terminator Salvation

This movie did not make it to the Top 12 because it's a sci-fi flick, or because it's a sort of prequel (the timeline is all messed up) to the Terminator series. It's on this list because Sam Worthington was great here, and Christian Bale was in it. That's how much we love Christian Bale.

8. Up

This isn't really surprising. You can expect a Pixar film in the Top 12 every year. Pixar has never yet let us down. The minute Pixar releases a crappy movie, I'm switching to DreamWorks Animation.

7. This is It

For those who have never watched a live Michael Jackson concert, this would probably be the closest thing. Although it's not really a full movie concert, but more of a behind-the-scenes type of documentary. But still, I'd prefer the behind-the-scenes intimacy over pyrotechnics any day. Especially with an artist like Michael.

6. Jennifer's Body

Recent studies have shown that sex doesn't really sell anymore. The new generation of moviegoers do not get excited anymore with huge tits and sexual innuendos. And this film is on the list because of Claire's Amanda Seyfried (that's Claire for you), and not because of Megan Fox.

5. Inglourious Basterds

Because we love Tarantino, and we love World War II. Although this isn't historically accurate, the production design and the brilliant acting of Christoph Waltz make this a must-see. Apart from the fact that it's Tarantino's latest in a long time.

4. District 9

The storytelling uses the "fake documentary" style, which I think will become popular in the coming decade. I refrain from using the word "mock-umentary" because "mock" tends to make the whole movie seem like a joke. So if I may coin the word "fake-umentary". But I'm sure my newly-coined word will not catch on, and will die a natural death.

3. The Hangover

Comedies have not really been taken seriously, except if it's done by Woody Allen. But this film belongs to the new breed of Hollywood comedies, similar to the Judd Apatow brand of humor. Let's go cerebral comedy!

2. Avatar. 3D

Again, I shall never tire of saying this: 3D is the future of cinema. For emphasis, let's say that again in boldface: 3D. Is. The. Future. Of. Cinema. Like Robert Zemeckis, James Cameron's development of 3D technology will put him at par with the other filmmaker-innovators before him. And I honestly thought this would land the Number One spot this year, like U2 3D the year before.

And finally, the best film of 2009 is...

1. (500) Days of Summer

Okay, I never expected a rom-com to outrank a 3D film. Not in my entire life. But damn, this is just one brilliant film. The non-linearity of the narrative is excellent, the soundtrack was good (especially the use of a Hall and Oates song), and the narrator had a very sexy voice. And of course, Zooey Deschanel made my heart melt. But somehow...I think I like Autumn better.

*Pics from: 12. lemonlemonade.wordpress.com; 11. thefilmstage.com; 10. thecia.com; 9.
unrealitymag.com; 8. thebestthingsince.com; 7. mjjr.net; 6. aceshowbiz.com; 5. thescene.com.au; 4. scifiscoop.com; 3. rymeorreason.wordpress.com; 2. flickr.com; 1. cribbster.wordpress.com


The Fallen of 2009

As the year comes to a close, Da Couch Tomato pays tribute to the departed of 2009. This year, we have lost a lot in the entertainment industry. The world has lost some of the greatest icons of our time, and it is but fitting that we pay tribute.

Click on the name to view the original obituary post.

Francis Magalona
4 Oct 1964 - 6 Mar 2009

David Carradine
8 Dec 1936 - 3 Jun 2009

Michael Jackson
29 Aug 1958 - 25 Jun 2009

Farrah Fawcett
2 Feb 1947 - 25 Jun 2009

John Hughes
18 Feb 1950 - 6 Aug 2009

Les Paul
9 Jun 1915 - 12 Aug 2009

Patrick Swayze
18 Aug 1952 - 14 Sep 2009

Captain Lou Albano
29 Jul 1933 - 14 Oct 2009

Johnny Delgado
29 Feb 1948 - 19 Nov 2009

Brittany Murphy
10 Nov 1977 - 20 Dec 2009

Albano: Info from Wikipedia, pic from comicculturewarrior.wordpress.com
Carradine: Info from Wikipedia, pic from shockya.com
Delgado: Info from Wikipedia, pic from angsawariko.com
Fawcett: Info from Wikipedia, pic from borough6.wordpress.com
Hughes: Info from Wikipedia, pic from fisherwy.blogspot.com
Jackson: Info from Wikipedia, pic from bbc.co.uk
Magalona: Info from Wikipedia, pic from thegadflyinflight.wordpress.com
Murphy: Info from Wikipedia, pic from gamespot.com
Paul: Info from Wikipedia, pic from blogs.houstonpress.com
Swayze: Info from Wikipedia, pic from redriverautographs.wordpress.com


DJ Earworm's "Blame It on the Pop"

And so, we end the music year with a mash-up (in the tradition of Glee) of the Top 25 Billboard songs for 2009.

Thank you to Juju, who got this video from Ria. But I'd like to especially thank DJ Earworm.

Best. Mash-up. Ever.

*video from djearworm at YouTube

You may also want to check out DJ Earworm's mash-ups for 2010 and 2011


Movie Icons: Brittany Murphy

Brittany Murphy isn't exactly that famous. I don't know if she's a household name in the States, but basing on her filmography, I think the average moviegoer would know her face, but not necessarily her name. Well, she was that cute fat kid in Clueless, and she was Eminem's slutty girlfriend in 8 Mile.

I was actually really saddened by her death. Not because I'm a big fan (because really, I'm not), but because she was really too young. And 2009 has already been a year of great losses to the entertainment industry.

Brittany Murphy. 1977-2009.

*some info from Wikipedia
pic from movies.about.com


Band of Brothers. Part 4: Replacements

As the title suggests, this is about replacements. Easy Company is not that keen on letting rookies fight side by side with the veterans, so that in itself creates a great conflict. Plus, this episode is about the (in)famous Operation: Market-Garden (oh how I love the sound of the names of covert military operations). This was one of the more notorious failed Allied operations. And you'll see here why it failed.

P.S. James McAvoy is here. Yes, THE James McAvoy.

*pic from livejournal.com


Toradora! Episode 16: One Step Forward

image source: http://hetanoyokozuki.wordpress.com/

I was going to write a review of Toradora! after I finish watching all the episodes, but I just can't resist writing one for this episode. And since I am going to write the gist of the anime when I write the review for the whole series, I'll just continue the tradition of sharing how I felt when I watched this episode (basically, all I'm really saying is that my "micro reviews," as Sting Lacson dubbed it, are for those already acquainted with the show.) Episode 16 is my turning episode in which I decided to admit that I fell in love with the series, not just because it takes me back to escapism high school, but because I can bullshit my way into intellectualizing every minor detail. Because Episode 16 tugs the right heart strings of comedy, drama, and even managing to tug some action scenes in a usually "realistic" high school setting (quotation marks; think realistic in terms of anime standards). In this episode, Taiga fights for the love of her life (and when I say fight: wooden swords and jumping on classroom tables). One minute I was rooting for her; the next, her opponent. What makes this episode (and the series) wonderful is one can empathize with all the characters. A is in love with B, C is in love with D, but we all know A and C will make a cute couple too, they just don't know it yet. So on and so forth.There are so many pairings but it's not easy to choose a favorite pairing, because every pairing goes well together. This is not like Friends or That 70's Show where they all, as Mrs. Foreman says, "switch partners more than square dancers." It's more than looking for that fitting romantic relationship to please the audience. Because all possible relationships are already pleasingly fitting in Toradora! Interactions with these possible relationships bring about changes within each character. It's established from the start how everyone hides their "true selves" in the disguise of, for example, hyperactivity or airhead-edness. And when each pairing interacts, or in Episode 16, is fought over for, they bring out the "true selves" in them. Not that I believe in the concept of "true selves" but I love how the unraveling of every "true self" of all characters are intricately involved in each pairing. Also, my favorite joke in this episode was when the scene, supposedly dramatic, showed a flashback of the student council president suddenly appearing on top of this building while Kitamura was brooding over Taiga's rejection, hair flowing, booming background music and all. She majestically invites Kitamura to join the student council for a happier high school life. Then, the camera pulls back and we see a ladder. Then it cut backs to the present awe stricken face Kitamura. Toradora! spurts out typical but untimely jokes without blinking a lash.


Band of Brothers. Part 3: Carentan

Since this is a ten-part series, you can't pull off those ten episodes without focusing on certain characters. Well technically you can, if you have a strong plot. And we all know what the plot for Band of Brothers is--World War II, European front. Ho hum. So we really need to focus on certain characters. "Carentan" focuses on Pvt. Albert Blithe, who isn't even a minor character in the book, but gets special mention here. That's because Blithe embodies all the cowards of war.

*pic from nj.com


The Hangover

First of all, this is quite a good film to watch with your family while waiting for Christmas Eve dinner.

That said, this is, surprisingly, one of the most subdued American comedies I've seen in quite a while.

You can't deny the slapstick roots of American comedy, especially in the movies. But The Hangover more or less follows the comedy style of Judd Apatow, which goes for more cerebral comedy. Although the overall look of this film is quite similar to a Judd Apatow flick, it's not.

I'd also have to commend the filmmakers for not relying on famous names to bring out the laughs. Heck, except for Justin Bartha, I've never even heard of the major characters. But we do have some famous cameos, like Heather Graham as that stripper who married the dentist, and of course, "Iron" Mike Tyson, who, after all these years, has still got it. The knockout punch, I mean.

*some info from IMDb
pic from The Miday Masala

The Hangover. USA. 2009.

Rating: Eight and a half out of ten.

You may also want to check out the other The Hangover review from Cholo Mercado.


Band of Brothers. Part 1: Currahee

This is the very first episode. Of course there's no action yet. This is just jump school. And even if I still can't dissociate David Schwimmer from the TV show Friends, he does a fine good job here as that despicable officer who actually made Easy Company.

*pic from rapid.org


Band of Brothers. Part 2: Day of Days

If you love action, you'll love this. If you love the European front of the Second World War, you'll love this. It's action, plus action, plus action. Guns. Guns. Guns. Parachutes. Parachutes. Parachutes. Germans. Germans. Germans. And for the longest time, I believed that the "D" in D-Day stood for "Dooms", you know, like "Doomsday". But this is actually Operation Overlord, a.k.a. The Day of Days. Let's go American megalomania!

*pic from bor3ds0ul.blogspot.com


Avatar. 3D

Like I said before, 3D will be cinema's weapon against the imminent threat posed by pirated home viewing. But I shall write on that separately.

This is a great film for three reasons.

1. James Cameron is a great visual storyteller. You have to admit that, even if you didn't like Titanic. He's also an auteur, as he single-handedly wrote the screenplay. There are some weaknesses in the way he reveals information and back stories, but those instances are negligible compared to the two and a half-hour running time. The guy has range, like Danny Boyle (although Danny Boyle is technically not an auteur). Range means he can tell stories in any film genre. Not like a certain director of robots in disguise.

This is James Cameron's first feature film after Titanic, and he could only have gotten better after that hiatus. Of course he didn't spend those years idly. He's been hiding in a secret underground base, developing a super-secret digital 3D camera, which he will use to take over the world. Apparently the story of Avatar was conceived a little after Titanic broke box-office records, but has remained shelved because Cameron was waiting for the proper technology to come into fruition. And that is the same thing I would've done. "If you're going to do something, do it well, or don't do it at all." (I don't know who originally said that. Probably me.)

3. This film utilized technology co-developed by Cameron himself. You have to admire James Cameron for following the same path walked by Orson Welles, George Lucas, and Peter Jackson: If the technology does not exist, create it. What makes this film worth watching in 3D is that Cameron intended from the onset that this will primarily be a 3D release, with the 2D release being only secondary. What is great about films originally intended for 3D (like U2 3D) is that the shots are composed to provide maximum depth. This would actually be a good starter for people who have never seen a 3D film before.

And now to the nitty-gritty.

James Cameron, I've already praised you enough. Next.

James Horner, I love your score. I hardly noticed it. And that is the mark of a great musical score.

Sam Worthington, I knew you were good since Terminator: Salvation. I said you could be the next Clive Owen. I think I'm right.

Sigourney Weaver: You. Are. Such. A. Bad. Ass. And I've liked you since Ghostbusters.

Giovanni Ribisi, you are good, but your voice is annoying.

And to the rest of the cast, for not being A-listers, you help keep the attention on the story and not on your faces. Nice work.

Oh, and Michelle Rodriguez, I admit I didn't like you before. Why? Because your acting is always the same. But after seeing Avatar, I thank James Cameron for landing you a role that's tailor-fit to your natural acting template. And I do hope I still like you in your next movie.

*some info from IMDb and Wikipedia
pic from bscreview.com

. USA. 2009.

Rating: Eight and a half out of ten.
3D shots: Nine out of ten.


The Beatles: Rock Band Intro

I've played The Beatles: Rock Band months before, but I've never seen the intro. I only saw it last weekend when I played it at my friend The Jujuman's house. His was the Nintendo Wii version though. The version I played earlier was the PlayStation 3 version. I've already sensed some slight differences, although I'd like to try to play the XBox 360 version first before I write a comparison.

Anyway, the first time I saw it, I was like, blown away. I don't have to explain why. Just watch the video.

My friend said, "The guy who did that's a famous animator." Using my cinematic eye, honed by years and years of viewing, I asked, "Is this the same animator who did The Gorillaz?"

He answered, "No, I don't think so. Probably not."

So I said, "Well, maybe they just used the same software."

And true enough, I googled it, and I found out that this video was indeed done by Pete Candeland, the same one who did The Gorillaz. I love being right. My cinematic eye has never failed me. Yet.

*some info from vectorvault.com
video from SBARSTV at YouTube


Glee. Season 1, Episode 13: Sectionals

image source: http://gleeks.tumblr.com

I like Emma's clothes. And I also like the medley of each episodes dance steps. The cardboard judges are also a nice touch. Finn as the patriarchal Troy Bolton of TV musicals is still impossible to me. Oh well, cardboard and fantastic choreography equals Glee.


Baron Geisler Farts at My Mom

This was during the last day of the wake of the late Johnny Delgado.

MOM -- My mother
TITA -- My aunt, my mom's cousin
FRIEND -- BARON GEISLER's female friend

Outside the chapel. Two benches, separated by a potted plant in between.

From left to right: On the first bench, FRIEND, then BARON GEISLER. Then the plant. Then MOM, then TITA.

MOM and TITA are chatting with each other, as are BARON GEISLER and FRIEND. They do not see each other because of the potted plant.

Suddenly MOM hears an unmistakable, very loud farting sound. Not just one fart, but three successive farts, one long, followed by two short ones. (Proooooooot...prooot...prooot)

Ay ano ba 'yun?

(who also heard it) Onga, ano 'yun?

(looks out from behind the plant, then sees MOM and TITA) Ay! Sorry po! Kala ko po walang tao e. (points to FRIEND) Ito po kasi o, ka-babaeng tao, anlakas umutot.

Hoy ano ka, ikaw kaya 'yun!

BARON GEISLER and FRIEND stand up laughing, then leave.

Si kuwan 'yun, 'di ba...si Baron Geisler?

Oo mare. Inututan ka ni Baron Geisler.


*pic from abs-cbn.com


Band of Brothers. Part 8: The Last Patrol

Because Private First Class David Kenyon Webster contributed significantly to the historical accuracy of the series, he was made the central character for this entire episode. What a break for actor Eion Bailey. And his acting wasn't bad, by the way. Tom Hanks's son also stars here, as newbie Lt. Jones, who graduated on D-Day. He's also got some acting chops (possibly genetic, considering that his old man is a back-to-back Oscar Best Actor), acting as green as his fresh ODs.

*pic from marymary.livejournal.com


Glee. Season 1, Episode 12: Mattress

image source: http://gleeks.tumblr.com

Glee, you've done good again. Finally. The overall story is tight and the musical numbers are back in its proper place, entertaining yet not interfering and forced in between scenes. Of course, the yummy topping of the episode, Will and Terri's confrontation is breathtaking. I've waited so long for this. I've always felt anxious every time Terri finds a way to cover her lie with another. I know she's supposed to be the bitch everyone can't love (unlike Sue), but I do. I love her too. The same way I kind of love deers caught in headlights. Of course she's setting herself up for her big downfall, and I guess I watch out for characters like that. I'm sort of interested how they get up from the downfall, or how they fall even deeper.


A Christmas Carol

Some people will never, ever agree with me when I say that motion capture has its own advantages. I shall defend that in a bit.

I shall give A Christmas Carol a passing score. And not because it's Christmas.

First, because Jim Carrey's acting was excellent. In motion capture films, an actor not only provides the voice, but the performance as well. So all the facial twitches of Ebenezer Scrooge were performed by Carrey. Oh, and Jim Carrey also performed all of the Christmas ghosts.

Second, the supporting cast was also excellent. Gary Oldman as Cratchit was terrific. Although I can't say the same for Colin Firth, as his character's facial expressions looked fake. Well of course. He's still computer-animated. Oh, and Fay Masterson is in it. Fay Masterson was my long-time crush from The Power of One.

Third, it used effective realism. Thank God Zemeckis didn't modernize the dialogue. He stayed true to the book. I'm sure Charles Dickens' ghost would've haunted him if he messed up the canon. Some may need subtitles to understand the dialogue, but those who enjoy dated languages (like me) will have a blast with listening to authentic nineteenth century syntax.

And fourth, Zemeckis' motion-capture technology has greatly improved. I can see now the advantages of motion-capture versus live action. Motion-capture gives the director absolute control. As in absolute control. Anything Zemeckis wants onscreen, he gets. If he wants this kind of look, or this kind of expression, he gets it. To have a great actor in your cast is one thing. And to have absolute control over a great actor is another.

And so there you have it. I predict Robert Zemeckis will be pushing motion-capture to its limits, maximizing it to its fullest potential. And unless he tires of playing cinematic god, we have him to thank for any developments of this promising new medium.

*some info from IMDb
pic from dailybruin.com

A Christmas Carol. USA. 2009.

Rating: Seven and a half out of ten.


Glee. Season 1, Episode 11: Hairography

I like my Sue Sylvester bad ass, but I don't know--in this episode, she seemed unfunny and boring-bad ass to me (I still love her with all my heart, and in this episode, I developed a May-December relationship with her. Heh). Also, singing and sitting on stool chairs can be considered a "gimmick" too. Oh, where did my Football Single Ladies moment go? I gave up on investing feelings for character development and interaction (though I was tempted with Will and Quinn's hugging). But I just refuse to stop believin'.


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