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The Vampire Diaries. Season 1, Episode 18: Under Control

Probably the season's most boring episode yet. The new guy in town didn't perk up my curiosity and well, there's nothing else to say. Damon still gets the best lines (and I'm actually falling in love with the actor who makes it all happen) and Stefan is hot when he's not on his I'm-an-A-student-brooder character. Elena and Jeremy's dynamics get nice and sad though. Other than that, I wanted to sleep.


The Soloist

Three words: Pretty. Heavy. Shit.

Such seems to be the screen tragedy for all great musicians. Beethoven. Mozart. And now Ayers.

This is a true story by the way. And Jamie Foxx does a damn great job. I sincerely believe Jamie Foxx is one of the most talented actors of his generation.

Robert Downey, Jr. doesn't really shine in this movie. But he doesn't suck either. Though his chemistry with Foxx is undeniable. I think Downey can work with anyone. He's a great team player.

The story was good. The acting was great. But the storytelling was too dragging. And that, I believe, is where it failed.

But Catherine Keener is still hot.

*some info from IMDb
pic from gloaminganddawn.wordpress.com

The Soloist. UK/USA/France. 2009.

Rating: Five point nine out of ten.


Miss You Like Crazy

All those who missed the JLC-Bea love team, please raise your hand.

This review will not dwell on the differences between the JLC-Bea and the JLC-Sarah love teams. But that could be the subject of a separate blog entry. This review will just focus on the sad, sorry state of Filipino A-movies, as portrayed in Miss You Like Crazy.

First of all, the title. Miss You Like Crazy was the title of a Whitney Houston classic. And now it's the title of a Star Cinema flick. And this is not just an isolated incident. A lot of Filipino films take their titles from foreign love songs. I mean, come on, how hard is it to think of a creative, catchy title that isn't the title of a song? Well, the producers might come up with defenses, citing marketing strategies, product recall, and other bull. But seriously, how hard is it to be creative?

Second is subject matter. I'm not a big fan of social stratification, but this film just thickens the dividing line between rich and poor. Like it or not, this film caters to the upper class of Filipino society. It can probably go as low as upper-middle. Or middle-middle. And that is the sad truth. So don't expect any great Filipino films coming out of the woodwork anytime soon, because I don't think any A-movie can tackle subject matter that the average minimum wage-earning Filipino will embrace.

That said, yes this film entertained me. Yes, Bea Alonzo is still beautiful. Yes, John Lloyd is still John Lloyd. But no, this film didn't break any new ground. And I don't think any groundbreaking films will ever come out of Star Cinema. That is unless it begins catering to the poor people of this country.

*pic from asianovela.com

Miss You Like Crazy. Philippines. 2010.

Rating: Six out of ten.


Everybody's Fine

This movie made me cry. And not just watery-eyed crying. I mean like real, non-stop sobbing crying. Like a sissy.

And because it made me cry, it means it's good. I cried toward the last part. And it takes a lot to make me cry. And since this film succeeded in doing that, it means that the storytelling was damn effective. It built up everything from the beginning, then continued to sustain the emotion, then in the end─boom!─let the tears fall down. Beautiful.

Robert De Niro does a great performance, simply because he didn't act like a tough gangster, which is the character that he can't seem to shake off. Well, he's growing old, and he's talented, so give him a break. He pulled off the lonely American parent perfectly. All I could do was feel sorry for him, and for American parents in general. Filipino parents have it waaaay better.

Kate Beckinsale is still hot. Although I think she's looking more and more anorexic. But she's still hot. And she didn't get enough screen time for me to soak in her hotness.

Sam Rockwell, I haven't seen you in a long time. And I have a feeling you'll be making a comeback.

Drew Barrymore, you're still cute. That's all I can say. And you're acting wasn't bad.

So if you watch this, and you find yourself crying, and someone asks you why you're crying, just answer, "I'm fine. Everybody's fine."

(The line above is an example of how NOT to end a review. I just forced it. So there.)

*some info from IMDb
pic from chicagomaroon.com

Everybody's Fine
. USA. 2009 (2010 Philippines).

Original rating: Eight out of ten.
Tear-jerker scene: Plus point two.
Kate Beckinsale's hotness: Plus point three.
Kate Beckinsale's anorexia: Minus point one.
Final rating: Eight point four out of ten.



That girl in the picture is not Kick-Ass. That's Hit Girl. But she kicked more ass than Kick-Ass.

Again, this is one of those films that exceeds expectations. Because I was expecting this to be a comedy. Well, it's not a comedy. There were some funny situations, sure, but it's not a comedy. And therein lies the beauty of it.

But the beauty doesn't stop there. The fight scenes were sweet. Better than The Matrix. At least in my opinion. But I'm not dissing The Matrix. I love The Matrix. But this movie kicks ass more. Or this movie kicks more ass. Whatever.

So Nicolas Cage may be the only A-list star here. But there are a lot of familiar faces, like Superbad's McLovin, a really small role by Band of Brothers' Dexter Fletcher, and that guy who played Jackie Aprile in The Sopranos, and a cameo from Jason Flemyng. Plus there are some of Hollywood's up-and-coming faces, particularly Chloë Grace Moretz as Hit Girl (although I liked her more as Hit Girl, probably because of the wig), and Aaron Johnson, Mr. Kick-Ass himself.

So again, before watching this, be warned: This. Is. Not. A. Comedy. In fact, I don't even know how to classify this. It's funny is some parts, action-packed in a lot of parts, bloodier than Kill Bill, as dark (if not darker) than The Dark Knight, and has better fight scenes than The Matrix. And it tackles subject matter that goes deeper than it actually looks.

*some info from IMDb
pic from blogs.smh.com.au

Kick-Ass. USA. 2010.

Original rating: Eight out of ten.
Mention of "Filipino" and balisong screen time: Plus point five.
Bloodiest fight scenes so far: Plus point one.
Comic book sequence: Plus point one.
Final rating: Eight point seven out of ten.



It's feels like Blade at the onset, only with more sophisticated and sort of advanced designs and ideas. Daybreakers is a vampire flick, but you will not find romance here, nor Edward Cullen.

Ten years into the future, there is only a handful of humans, most of them hiding in shelters. That is, if they're not hanging by tubes in a lab as blood is harvested from their veins to meet the needs of the vampire-populated world. Ed Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is a hesitant vamp sympathetic to humans. He's also a hematologist finding a special blood substitute to make up for the deteriorating supply. But he and his new-found human friends find a “cure” for being a vampire that could save all their problems.

The idea and attention to details of a vampire's life really impresses here: how a vampire can drive under the sun in his car untouched by the UV rays, or how a vampire can check in his rear-view mirror how his ear looks like even without a reflection, or how a vampire can buy a cup of blood-infused coffee, just like ordering at Starbucks. Human sacrifice may very well be its redeeming factor, but not enough to save the film. It seems that the idea was to put back real “reel” vampires on the big screen; only it lacks decent storytelling.

Actors (Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill) are a waste of talent here; there was no character or story for their full potential to soar. Really, even the action sequences were mainly military vamps (using tranquilizer guns) shooting humans (using Van Helsing-sort-of-stakes) and vice versa. I guess the movie’s reel vamps checked their agility and super speed and strength at the door. Either that, or with all the technology they presented, the military vamps were left out without funding.

But I wonder: if "immortality is the miracle" (or so Neill’s blood-thirsty character says), what would a vampire not give to be alive again? Life is not meant to be unending. It's because it has an end that we can live in its moments. (Yes, the Kodak moments. Eww, harharhar.)

Daybreakers gets five out of ten, for trying to be a watchable action-suspense vampire movie.

*photo from allmoviephoto.com


Did You Hear About the Morgans?

Two words: Too tame (or lame?). This rom-com had more faith in their actors than in their story, but their story really needed that extra oomph for their actors to click.

Did You Hear About the Morgans? is a story about a separated New Yorker couple Meryl (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Paul Morgan (Hugh Grant) who witnessed a crime and had to be placed in the witness protection program. As a hitman tracks them down, they are sent to the far-flung—and designer stores-slash-wifi-deprived—town of Ray, Wyoming to be safe. During their hiatus, they give themselves a well-deserved break from the busy city and focus on what really needs work: their relationship.

Hugh Grant is really charming, but I'm afraid he's been chained into doing this kind of role far too many times. SJP is effortless in playing a New Yorker; not much challenge there. Together, they don't really mesh to bring about laughs. And the part where they are being "hunted" didn't even make me sit up and pay attention to the suspense.

This is the only part I found funny, even just for a bit: "I promise never to take you for granted or utter a word unkind / Never allow my affections to be recanted or stop marveling at your behind / To also marvel at your warmth, your wit, your refusal to condone animal slaughter / Your wisdom, your laugh, your inability to boil water / To be your best friend for the rest of my life and / To thank the God you're not sure about fooling you into being my wife."—delivered by Grant as "the leading man character," in almost each and every rom-com he played since.

Did You Hear About the Morgans? gets three out of ten, because predictable happy endings suck for movies in general... but in life, it’s most welcome.

*photo from allmoviephoto.com


Body of Lies

If telling a Body of Lies doesn't hunt your conscience, then maybe you're fit to be a spy. It's Leonardo DiCaprio, so what the heck. Hehe.

The film follows the story of a CIA operative Roger Farris (Dicaprio), the man on the ground, and Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), the man with the phone and satellite what-have-yous, tracking down a terrorist. The story reveals the amount of deceit and secrecy—either with decorated officials or with people who are easily dispensable—involved in these kinds of operations. They do everything to get vital intel and thus get the bad guy. But in this world of espionage, you don't really know who your enemies or your friends are.

Roger Farris is the heart of the movie, and I must admit, Leo has grown as an actor from his portrayal of Romeo in the modern adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Ed Hoffman is just plain cold, though he appeared to want to protect his colleague (Crowe, by the way, is a good actor, but not so much of a hunk here. Boo.). And this precise difference in personalities works for the film. Throw in the Jordanian Intelligence head and the terrorist in the mix, and you've got four different minds set to doing what they feel is the right way (or the only way) to do things.

Overall I'd say it's just another spy movie, but with DiCaprio and Crowe in the mix, it's definitely something to watch. I can't say it'll alter someone's take on espionage, though, or the way Americans deal with terrorists or international relations. As Ed said, "No one's innocent in this shit." Indeed, no one is. But how well do you sleep at night?

Body Of Lies gets six out of ten, for spy agents DiCaprio and Crowe really, and for Uncle Sam’s faulty ways.

*photo from allmoviephoto.com


The Vampire Diaries. Season 1, Episode 17: Let the Right One In

One of the series' back-to-vampire basics episode. Throw in a storm, torture, ghosts of the Christmas past, and the I-trust-that-you-won't-suck-the-bejesus-blood-out-of-me scene. Here I got really tired of the Caroline subplot, though she had grown to be my favorite character. I guess I just have a thing for characters who the writer's disregard. I swear, if they're not setting her up for some great character change (like turning into a master villain or something), I'll have to stake someone. Secondly, Stefan. I can't believe I'm saying this but you're really turning out to be a hero I can actually sympathize with. Not some cardboard hero who exists to make your evil vampire brother look cool. And speaking of that, I realized Damon is cute because he has Jack Sparrow-like mannerisms. But I wonder why I still keep getting surprised every time he suddenly kills someone. I guess the actor is pretty effective since the audience is supposed to be confused between liking and unliking him, with him being all psychopath yet hot. And oh, lastly, a quick Google will show that this might be some sort of a tribute to a film of the same title as this episode. I wouldn't know, I haven't watched it.


Pinoy Icons: Palito

Let us grieve for one of the pillars of modern Philippine slapstick.

Palito will always be remembered as a mere sidekick. Yes, he is a team player. And yet most people know that he starred as a lead in several movies, most notably Rambuto, and James Bone, both spoofs of American movies, and both using "bone" in the title. And strangely, Palito's bones, which brought him to the heights of his showbiz career, are all that we have left of him.

Palito a.k.a. Reynaldo Alfredo Hipolito, 4 Sep 1934 - 12 Apr 2010

*some info from Wikipedia
pic from Dennis Villegas at flickr.com

**a great article, from which the Wikipedia entry lifts heavily from, can be found in dennisvillegas.blogspot.com


The Vampire Diaries. Season 1, Episode 16: There Goes the Neighborhood

This episode made me clap my hands with glee, smiling from ear to ear. It's probably the series' most bloody, action-packed, and sexy episode, but it never forgets to be funny. And oh, how subtle and twisted its funny was. I don't know which I liked more, when Damon said "About that..." or when Stefan was talking with Elena like everything was normal while his brother was getting rid of a vampire body in the background.


The Vampire Diaries. Season 1, Episode 15: A Few Good Men

The way they kill and resurrect characters with total disregard in The Vampire Diaries is very Whedonesque. And moreover, the plot thickens like Oreo's double stuffing (I wish they see this as an advertisement and start giving me free double stuffed cookies) and I totally forgot what that ring was for.


The Vampire Diaries. Season 1, Episode 14: Fool Me Once

Not the mid-season-ender I was looking for but it pretty much satisfies that urge for blood. There's kidnapping, dying, who-gets-to-the-tomb-first feel, witches chanting, and of course, more characters to throw in the plot thickening mix. The Vampire Diaries started from being classically linear to who-the-hell-is-the-main-villain web. As my officemate would say, good job!


Clash of the Titans

Watched this in 2D. Because I promised myself I wouldn't watch a converted 3D film.

My knowledge of Greek mythology is quite rusty, and I'm not really sure if this film (or the original 1981 version) is true to the original tales. I'm betting it isn't. Oh well.

I wouldn't want to dwell too much on reviewing this particular film. It's a fantasy film, and thanks to the wonders of technology, it is able to show things that the 1981 version could only dream of. So for that, I would like to do a comparative analysis of both films, but maybe in a future post, as the summer heat is making me too lethargic.

Anyway, here are my rants:

Jason Flemyng: You're a great actor, but you look hideous here.

Sam Worthington: You are too pop. Can you do a a rom-com next time, or a serious drama?

Liam Neeson: You will always be Liam Neeson. Everything you say sounds like Liam Neeson. I mean, I don't think you're even acting. Even Qui-Gon Jinn sounds like Liam Neeson. Now unless you convince me that you can become Hannibal in The A-Team, I'm afraid you will always be Liam Neeson.

Ralph Fiennes: Now for me, this is the only worthy performance in the entire movie. Ralph Fiennes is pure heart.

Now for all the rest of the actors, you've seen them in one film or another. Perseus' father was the priest in Romeo + Juliet. Cassiopeia was Atia of the Julii in Rome (she looks less hot here). One of the funny brothers was that cop in The Kingdom. Io was a Bond girl in Quantum of Solace. And so on.

And finally: The Gorgon was okay. The Kraken was ugly. And the scorpions were awesome.

PS: The face-off between Zeus and Hades reminded me of...Schindler's List. What?

*some info from IMDb

Clash of the Titans. USA. 2010.

Rating: Six out of ten.
Scorpion battle scene: Eight out of ten.


Apocalypse: The Second World War. 4/6 The World Ablaze

And finally, this documentary touches on the war in the Pacific. And hooray for showing footage shot in the Philippines, particularly, the Bataan Death March. And for the longest time, I thought that "Tora tora" was the name of the Japanese planes. Turns out it was a battle cry. It's amazing how playground history mostly turns out wrong.

*pic from stagevu.com (for lack of a better pic, I had to settle for one with "PG" plastered all over the top left side)


Band of Brothers. Part 9: Why We Fight

And as the paratroopers' song goes: ♪ Glory, glory, what a helluva way to die / He ain't gonna jump no more ♫ And basically, Easy Company gets to jump no more. Except for Captain Nixon, who gets to make one last jump with the 17th Airborne. While getting divorced from his wife. While running out of whiskey. All this from a man who never fired his weapon in combat. Ever. And what is the reason why they fight? One word: Jews.


It's Complicated

Nobody likes love triangles. Two's company, and three's a crowd, as the saying goes.

The title, I believe, was popularized by the relationship status found in social networking sites. And for that, we thank you, Friendster, even if you're already dead.

Okay, since this is a love triangle, I shall just discuss the three main players in this game called "adult relationships".

La Streep: I don't even have to keep saying it. In fact, I get tired of saying it over and over. Meryl Streep, you are one brilliant actress. You make acting so effortless. And you age ever so gracefully.

Steve Martin: This is the first time I've seen a subdued Steve Martin. I'm used to seeing him as a comic. I'd like to see more roles like this, though.

Alec Baldwin: You are simply too big to be allowed. And I hate your guts for playing an obnoxious ex. But that actually means your performance was effective.

Final three points: 1) I would really like to smoke whatever it is they smoked in this film. Looks like some pretty strong shit. 2) Caitlin Fitzgerald is pretty. She plays the eldest daughter. But she doesn't look pretty in her other pics on Google search. 3) And finally, hooray for women who do not go back to their exes. Especially the obnoxious, asshole, jerk type of an ex. 'Nuff said.

*some info from IMDb
pic from altfg.com

It's Complicated. USA. 2009 (2010 Philippines).

Original rating: Eight out of ten.
Alec Baldwin's hugeness: Minus one point.
Final rating: Seven out of ten.


Remember Me

I walked into the theater assuming Remember Me was sorta a romantic-drama movie with brooding Edward...ooops...I meant a rebellious Tyler Hawkins (Rob Pattinson) and college-mate Ally Craig (Emilie de Ravin) with a you-and-me-agaisnt-the-world kind of theme. Well, a part of it is, and its all-too-familiarity kind of works for the two lead characters. But it's more about a family's love story and the little things that contribute to life and its majesty.

I couldn't say which scene I loved the most; it's a hodgepodge of many. I get the fathers' characters in this movie: Hawkins’ dad (Pierce Brosnan) is a big-shot executive with an office with a view who is trying to give his family the best money can buy, while Craig’s dad (Chris Cooper) is a police officer trying to keep his family safe. Both characteristics I've seen in the flesh. And you can criticize both, but it will never take away their good intentions. Brotherly love is something I know of, having two elder brothers, and it's shown here in such great proportions. Caroline (Tyler's younger sister) is a very fortunate little girl.

A few minutes before the film ends, I was shocked by a twist just as things were falling right into place. Had it been presented with much more bang, it would have been too "shoved up" or "spoon-fed." But the way it was executed was to make the audience realize it was subtle yet strong, making Remember Me a bigger-than-life story than it may seem. Scream all you want, bite-me fans, but in this movie, RPattz is just one of the pieces on a chess board.

"I would say that our fingerprints don't fade from the lives we've touched," Tyler said. And it holds true to both the living and the dead.

Remember Me gets seven out of ten, for all of the above but especially for the larger-than-life twist.

Postscript: Both dads' acting rock, by the way. And Pattinson, well, I know you can do more than brood in front of a cam; it's just that Twilight stigma I can't shake off. Darn.

*photo from aceshowbiz.com


Dear John

Well, what can I say? Channing Tatum is a hunk. He can dance (and you know what they say about good dancers, harhar!), he can make you swoon, and even punch someone in the face for you. At least for the last part, his character in the movie can. Hehe.

Dear John is a story about a Special Forces Army Sergeant John (Channing Tatum) and a college student Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) falling in love during spring break. They carried on their relationship writing letters to each other, while she's at school and he's in Germany to finish his 12-month enlistment in the army. Surprisingly, unlike most long-distance relationships, it worked. Until 9/11 happened and John had to go back to war again.

Apparently, it's based on a Nicolas Sparks book, whose narrative I hear the movie was not very true to. Hell, when are you people going to get it? The book is never the same as the movie. They are two different mediums; what worked for the book might not work for the movie, so get over it. They can be both wonderful in their own way.

What struck me the most is the scene where John totally breaks down reading his letter to his father (Richard Jenkins) at his father's bedside in the hospital. It's probably the first time he opened up to his father after drifting apart for years. Tear-jerker. I felt both their pain—the pain of a father wanting to console his son, and the pain of a broken heart—right through the screen. And what's ironic about it is, "Two weeks together, that's all it took, two weeks for me to fall for you," Savannah said, before they went on with their long distance thing.

It takes a moment to fall in love, probably a second to break someone's heart, and exponentially more to feel the pain.

Dear John gets six out of ten for all of the above, especially for Tatum’s hot bod (Sorry!).

Postscript: Acting-wise, Jenkins did really great playing a man with autism. Tatum could be getting better. Seyfried needs to play more diverse roles or she’ll be stuck in rom-coms, and that would be a waste of talent and a pretty face.

*photo from allmoviephoto.com


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