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Never mind that it's Katherine Heigl. It's Ashton Kutcher. And it's an action-comedy. So, why not? Or let's find out why not.

Killers is a film about perfect-guy spy-hitman Spencer Aimes' (Kutcher) love-bubble romance with Jen Kornfeldt (Heigl), then a recently-single girl on vacation with her parents in a French paradise. After quitting his spy-hitman job, three years of married bliss, his own business, and naked Saturdays, his former boss wants him to kill again. His friends, neighbors, and co-workers turn out to be undercover killers wanting to cash in the $20-million bounty on his head! Wife finds out about Husband's dark past and present; love bubble bursts and chaos begins.

It's only "kind of trying" to be Mr. and Mrs. Smith yet still different. I think the movie has a decent plot premise to begin with until they get to the part where they resolve its conflicts. I was kinda hoping for a lot of action and laughs, and there are a number of them. But I think it fell short because of how the story ended. Being the feel-good flick that it is, you may still actually enjoy it.

It was different but good to see Kutcher play a really cool spy-hitman perfect guy, though I terribly miss his wacky side. He could have taken the James Bond character and added a little dash of Punk'd to it—that would have been a more awesome Spencer Aimes. Heigl, in my opinion, is only funny playing an uptight-and-then-loosens-up girl, which is practically what almost all her roles have been (Haller. Knocked Up, 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth?!) I'm not sure she'll be as funny given other roles. Allow me to mention the actors who played Jen's parents who both held their own comedic moments, Tom Selleck and especially Catherine O'Hara. I love that alcoholic woman! Haha.

Killers gets a six out of ten, for Ashton Kutcher, Catherine O'Hara, what else? Oh, a weak twist-slash-ending to an otherwise interesting plot.

*photo from allmoviephoto.com


The Karate Kid (2010)

Also known as The Kung Fu Kid in China, South Korea and Japan, the film makes a clear distinction between Karate and Kung Fu. Blame the weird title on branding.

Some shots feel like a car commercial. Is this because the Chinese government is said to have sponsored this film? A good chunk of the movie is about this, which makes for a little boredom.

Jaden Smith has his mom's face and his dad's humor. And he can take on a dramatic scene too. "We moved to China. That's what happened." Though, there are moments when you realize that he's only 12 and he has a long way to go.

I've never really been a fan of the Jackie Chan-Hollywood combination, but Jackie Chan was good here. Props to Christopher Murphey and Robert Mark Kamen for a writing a script worthy of Jackie Chan.

Tarajie P. Henson is a hot mom.
Also, Wikipedia says Michelle Yeoh played that Kung Fu master who was balancing on a cliff with a cobra. Didn't look her, though.

Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) meets an American kid right when he gets off their car to their new apartment in Beijing. Where was that kid for the rest of the movie?

So yeah, for the branding and for what didn't happen to Kung Fu kid's supposed American best friend in China, and for the boring bits, I give this a 7 /10.


Youth In Revolt (2010)

Another one from the Michael-Cera-is-head-over-heels story series, the movie is an adaptation of a novel like titled. Dark and murky comedy in a Fight Club kind of way. You will see the resemblance in the plot instantly. Schizophrenia might be a growing concern in this generation.

Michael Cera is now becoming a type-cast for awkward teenager roles (see Juno, Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist and Superbad) and yet I'm not tired. His next movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, another adaptation (from the comic book series) is worth anticipating and will probably be a blockbuster. And it's mainstream, for a change. Bonus points for the soundtrack.

(pic from rottentomatoes)

Youth In Revolt. 2010. USA.

Rating: Six out of ten.


The Book of Eli

Okay, if this is a screwed-up, post-apocalyptic scenario, why do they have really cool shades? Gary Oldman made me a fan of wayfarers. Well, also Bradley Cooper from The A-Team. But I don't know if they were the real deal Ray-Ban Wayfarers or just sunglasses of similar design. But this is not a review of sunglasses.

Denzel can do his own stunts. Hooray. And a scruffy-looking Denzel looks cooler.

Gary Oldman is in my Acting Hall of Fame. So I don't even have to explain anything.

Ray Stevenson is actually a great actor. Although he makes a really good sidekick, I'm sure that he would make a really great lead.

And that's it. Not really a fast-paced flick, but it'll keep you entertained nonetheless.

*some info from IMDb
pic from filmofilia.com

The Book of Eli. 2010. USA.

Rating: Six and half out of ten.
Everyone's sunglasses: Nine out of ten.


Toy Story 3. 3D

Honestly, I find it awkward saying the title of this film. Toy Story Three Three Dee. That's two "three"s in a row. I think it's okay to just say Toy Story 3D. Because this is the only 3D film in the Toy Story trilogy anyway. That is, of course, excluding the Toy Story and Toy Story 2 re-release in 3D, which I failed to watch. That's two movies for the price of one, and I missed it. Drat.

Pixar has definitely proven that not all sequels are money-making ventures. You can make a sequel without coming off as too money-hungry, as long as the story is well-written, and the characters have been missed. And I'm sure everyone's missed Andy's toys. This is eleven years after Toy Story 2. Some things haven't changed, like the inscription on Woody's foot, which hasn't faded. But a lot of things have changed. Bo Peep's gone, plus some other toys. Andy's grown up, and so has his sister Molly (that drooling baby from Toy Story 2). Slinky is now voiced by Blake Clark, close friend of Jim Varney, the original voice of Slinky, who died in 2000. Of course, the animation has improved a whole lot since the first Toy Story, but no one notices those things anymore, as computer animated films are commonplace nowadays.

And I've heard from a lot of people on Facebook that this film was a tearjerker. I was kind of expecting my eyes to get wet. But I eventually cried a lot that the person beside me in the cinema gave me a strange look when he heard me sniffling. And I also learned that crying in 3D blurs your vision through the glasses.

A lot of the new toys were really adorable. I don't know if the Spanish-speaking Buzz can be considered a new toy, but he was just pure corazon. Lotso the bear would've been really cute, and he smells of strawberries. But he's evil. I loved the porcupine Mr. Pricklepants. And I just found out he was voiced by Timothy Dalton. I just have one question, though. Was that a Studio Ghibli character among Bonnie's toys?

A fitting ending to the Toy Story franchise. But about the tear-jerker thing...it's only the adults who will be crying. The children won't be, because the crying only works with nostalgia. Only those who grew up with Woody and Buzz will find themselves teary-eyed by the time they leave the theater.

*some info from IMDb
pic from filmofilia.com

Toy Story 3. USA. 2010.

Rating: Eight and a half out of ten.


Pinoy-French Contemporary Dance Week

My friend Marella and I saw the Pinoy-French Contemporary Dance Week on June 15.

The show featured a dance performance on video by local dancer and choreographer Donna Miranda (although, the video featured two of her students), Lin Yuang Shang and Caroline DesMaison.

Donna Miranda's "Anything Less is Less Than a Reckless Act" social experiment featured the choice of a lecture or a video of a boy and a girl moving through each other's bodily loops.

We found ourselves being rushed into the theater to see a piece that could have been called "We Fit Together." It was nice and smart. I like how one position could look like a choke hold one moment and tender at the next.

It was also too long─moving from "WTF!" to "I did not come here to see this" to "Fine" to "Really cheesy" to "Those young dancers are cute while their eyes are begging the camera man to stop" to something that looked like an Oren Lavie music video, which they should have stuck with.

And I wish Donna Miranda had handled the post-performance Q&A better.

Lin Yuang Shang then did a solo piece called "Kung Fu Dancing". I liked how he played with light and shadows and film. At one point, he used kung fu movies as his backdrop.

Later on, he had a video of the stifling modern city while he kept emphasizing how one must be like the water. I thought he could have done with less textual and verbal cues since his dance and videos were already strong.

Marella mentioned that he repeated and broke down the parts of his thesis too much.

Caroline DesMaison' performance "Entre Deux" seemed like the most complete and clear performance of the three. (She's in the second picture in the poster.) It didn't require text or visuals or a Q&A or lecture to explain what she was doing. All it was was a woman dancing to music, non-music, silence, and rain with her body trying to escape from itself.

Her performance was choreographed by Lin Yung Shang, who founded the Eolipile dance troupe.

Of course, the event was sponsored by Slenda, which also has a dance workout video called Slendance.


The A-Team

I am ashamed to admit that I do have vague memories of the 80s A-Team show. That means I am old.

Anyway, my favorite back then was Murdock. And my favorite in this version is still Murdock. Because he can speak Swahili. And because he did that Braveheart thing.

Director Joe Carnahan did a great job. The pacing was adrenaline-pumping perfect, and there is no shortage of explosions.

Jessica Biel has never been my type. Sorry. Well, naked, maybe. But otherwise, no.

Girls might be disappointed though that Bradley Cooper bares his body for like a minute or two. Well, this is The A-Team, not a Bradley Cooper porno, so stop whining.

Rampage Jackson might not have gotten Mr. T's BA Baracus down pat, but at least he had no pretensions. It wasn't like he was trying to be Mr. T. I guess he knew that he couldn't be Mr. T. So he decided to just be Rampage.

Liam Neeson might look like Hannibal Smith. But he still acts like Liam Neeson. Just imagine Qui-Gon Jinn with short white hair and a cigar. Neeson belongs to those actors who have only one acting style. Maybe I should devote a separate post on this.

The two villains were pretty effective. The guy who played Lynch was really annoying. The guy who played Pike was despicable. So annoying + despicable = effective.

And again, Sharlto Copley as Murdock is this film's saving grace. Aside from the action sequences, of course.

*some info from IMDb
pic from api.ning.com

The A-Team. USA. 2010.

Rating: Eight out of ten.
Adrenaline rush: Nine out of ten.
Murdock's stunt flying: Nine out of ten.



This was recommended by someone (who I found out later hasn't seen it yet) who said that this is a good film. I watched it not knowing it would be stop-motion clay animation, and it didn't really disappoint at all. It's a Neil Gaiman story anyway. That alone is enough invitation to watch it.

Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) just moved to an old apartment home with her very busy parents. As she explores her new home, she finds a small door all bricked up. During the night though, the small door opens to an alternate reality where her "other" parents actually acknowledge her presence and everybody has buttons for eyes. As Coraline realizes she wants to be with her real parents more, Other Mother (voiced by Teri Hatcher who also voiced Real Mother) turns ugly inside out. She must now rely on her instincts plus a little help from her friends to set her real parents and herself free from this otherworldly situation.

I actually liked the opening credits or the making of Coraline-the-doll (used to spy on her real life by Other Mother). It's like watching Edward Scissorhands do a project─crafty. According to IMDb, this is the longest stop-motion animation, and it was shot in 3D. Kudos to the people behind the film, it's a real sight for sore eyes with the characters and sets' elaborate takes. Stop motion animation rules! But boo to me not having to watch in in 3D, though I don't know if it would have made a diff.

I can't help but point out its similarities to Alice in Wonderland─the small door, the cat, the evil mother or queen. I'm not sure if young kids would appreciate a sort of creepy-dark-but-cute graphics, but it's surely watchable mainly because it does not only have a story but its storytelling is also solid for the win (unlike a random dream sequence). Dakota Fanning sounds younger than her real age, but just perfect for her character. It's also refreshing─and surprisingly good─to hear Teri Hatcher not being the "desperate housewife" or Lois Lane.

gets eight out of ten, for a solid story and for taking stop motion animation a notch higher.

*photo from movies.ign.com


12 Angry Men

For an old film, this one sure is good.

Well, there are some not-so-good shots. Like that creepy close-up of that old man's face. And when they raised their hands to vote. But this was made in 1957, so you can forgive director Sidney Lumet, since the cinematic language was kind of different back then. But the storytelling was perfect. Which goes to show that great stories are timeless.

The musical scoring was good, but again, it makes the film sound really old. I don't think anybody uses that kind of scoring anymore. But then again, this was in 1957.

The acting was great. Henry Fonda was in it. I thought he was Jack Lemmon. Turns out Lemmon was in the 90s remake. Anyway, great job for the casting director. The actors faces matched their characters perfectly, from the juror who grew up in the slums, to the dorky juror in glasses, to the angriest juror of all. Just casting the correct actor is already half the job done.

The film's pacing was well-done. It rises, then steadies, then sinks, then rises again. Just like a real courtroom drama. Only this one was not in the courtroom. But it was still a court-related proceeding. Too bad we don't have juries in the Philippines. Or maybe that's a good thing. I don't really know. And I don't really care.

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

12 Angry Men. USA. 1957.

Rating: Nine out of ten.
Casting: Nine out of ten.


Tutubi, Tutubi, 'Wag Kang Magpapahuli sa Mamang Salbahe by Jun Cruz Reyes

Things I won't discuss: the significance of the language used in the novel's time and the significance of activism in the novel's time.

Thing I have to mention right off the bat: this is probably the most sexist work I've ever read from Jun Cruz Reyes. But then again, I've only read four of his works. The fourth one, I'm not even sure if he's really the one who wrote it (it was a photocopy for a Humanities class). Now, I had one class under the author (was it two years ago already?) and I can attest that he has said a lot of anti-sexist stuff without being even aware of it. I even made a critical paper on Etsa Puwera saying it has a feminist tone in it. But Tutubi, Tutubi is just so easy to criticize, feminism-wise, and can be recommended to students who want to study Feminism 101. Women in this novel fall under the virgin/whore dichotomy. The only good women are mothers, patronized by the lead character Jojo. The rest are prostitutes and crazy old women and Jojo does not even try to hide his disgust around them. And there is of course, Jojo's object of affection, Tess─which is just who she can only be, an object. He loves her so much even if he's relatively poor, from the province, and an activist. He loves her so much even if Tess is rich, likes buying him things as a sign of her love, and uses Jojo as a rebound boyfriend. Their break-up is one source of many rants from Jojo. Of course, it's always the girl who's at fault. The girl just used Jojo as a rebound and went back to her ex. That fucking whore.

Anyhow, to the meat of the novel: it's about a student-activist who gets caught up in the thoughts inside his head, the bourgeoisie world, and the violence-driven society of martial law. The novel started off really annoying. Because one, it was boring me and two, Jojo was asking me too many questions. I swear to god with the small g, there are three straight pages with paragraphs full of one question after another. No rest declarative sentences. Pure questions. Just why is the world stupid? Why is the world ironic? Why is the world mean to me? Where is Tess? Blah di blah di blah.

But when I got to the part where he was trying to escape from getting caught, and I finally got a dose of non-annoying movement from Jojo (instead of him wandering around the city in circles), when I finally understood why he's so sad for like a whole first five chapters, I also finally realized that the questions are actually what's important in the novel. Questions challenge the norm. Questions are meant to disturb what people are used to. I was annoyed because I was disturbed. I was disturbed because I didn't know the answers. And when I did know the answer, I was even more disturbed because it really takes a whole lot of courage to do something about the answer.

Tutubi, Tutubi values the need to think and think and think, but it also warns readers not to be like Jojo and drown in these thoughts. Though I believe this "moral lesson" was delivered quite hastily in the ending (which is kind of...bad), it does not lessen its truth. I stand by the opinion that the author writes better short stories than novels but even so, Tutubi, Tutubi remains significant in today's post-martial law society. Which really says a lot about the author. And which really says a lot about a fucked-up country where─the people who are supposed to protect you are the ones who kidnap you, torture you, murder you, and make it seem that it was an accident, or worse, it's your fault─20 years after, things seem to change but they really don't.


My Life In Ruins

I was curious about this film because I heard it featured Greece’s tourist spots, and I really want to go there sometime in the future as part of my European tour. Also, it’s the first film since the 1950’s to actually shoot at The Parthenon. Really.

My Life In Ruins is a story about Georgia (Nia Vardalos) who loves the country she grew up in, and wants to teach its rich history and culture, but instead is stuck in entertaining I-just-want-a-t-shirt misfit tourists around Greece. Did I mention she’s single, too? Okay, so she’s miserable until she meets old widowed tourist Irv (Richard Dreyfuss). “Been there, done that” is Irv, wise and true. Throughout the film, he inspired people on the tour to live life the way it should be, and for Georgia to find the most unexpected love of her life.

It’s not really a good film, but it brings a bunch of important life lessons the audience─old and young, man or woman, married or not, Greek, American or otherwise─can certainly pick up. I think the story itself fails as it mainly focuses on presenting Greece’s famous tourist spots (though I didn’t really see as much, or maybe it’s really worth seeing in person than in a movie) or the Greek way of life, and its sort-of-not-s0-preachy messages, and not really giving the story a polished finish.

Richard Dreyfus seems fit for his role, bringing subtle comedy to the screen. Nia Vardalos, well, she’s not too funny this time around compared to her role in
My Big Fat Greek Wedding. No other actor or character really shines here, not even Georgia’s love interest (who, by the way, it still some kind of a hotness... but not so much).

If you want to rediscover life’s real little treasures, you might find a thing or two in this movie that may strike a chord and put a tear of realization in your eyes. But other than that, it's less of a romantic approach to romance amidst Greece for a background, and it wasn't enough for the romantic comedy to survive.

My Life in Ruins gets four out ten, for having that smorgasbord of life’s important lessons
even if it's lacking as a romcom.

*photo from allmoviephoto.com


Sex and The City 2

If you're female, biologically or by heart, you'd never want to miss this movie even if you've read semi-bad reviews about it because it's Sex and the City! So that's what I did; I gathered the girlfriends for a night with Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha.

Sex and the City 2 (SATC2) catches up with the girls two years after Carrie (Sarah Jessica Park) got married, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) got her marriage back on track, Charlotte (Kristin Davis) gave birth to her second daughter, and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) was back in New York after calling it quits with her guy in L.A. They all got their own new conflicts in their lives: Carrie is worried that her childless marriage will bore them to death; Miranda is losing her voice as a senior partner at the law firm; Charlotte is so stressed about motherhood and a big-boobs-nanny makes her paranoid; and Samantha is "fifty-fucking-two" and going through menopause. The solution: A week-long vacation in Abu Dhabi.

I love the
SATC episodes, seasons, and the first movie for their smack on portrayal of real people, relationships, and fashion. All girls would have related to one or more characters at one point or another watching it. And I love that the characters have grown throughout the seasons. Each character’s storyline could have been given more screen time for resolving their conflicts. But I guess when you’ve had your time with the girls, you get a lot of insight to go on and end on a positive note (Or we might have a repeat of the first movie's over-extended running time.)

When it comes to fashion,
SATC2 went a little over the top though. Some are wearable (read: classy, comfy, stylish, and sexy), but some are too runway-ish. And I can’t believe they changed clothes for almost every scene, and sported a different ‘do at that, too. It's a little exhausting to the eye for me (I'm not much of a fashionista, sorry). I wonder how all those dresses fit in their luggage to Abu Dhabi?! And how did they manage the time and effort to tease and curl their own hair after having it in a clean French twist just a while ago?

Anyway, everybody (even the men) seems to age pretty gracefully on and off screen. These girls have lived and breathed their characters for a long time now and they played the
SATC girls pretty spot on. I love all of them and their characters, but I’d have to give props to Kim Catrall. I bet Samantha is really a blast to play. And at one point in the movie when she said, “We made a deal ages ago. Men, babies, doesn't matter. We are soul mates,” SATC2 still hits the bull’s eye. It's like we've been girlfriends with them through the years, too!

Sex and the City 2 gets six out of ten, for staying true to girlfriend ties, though coupled with outrageous fashion and contrived endings.

*photo from allmoviephoto.com


Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Episode 20: Innocents of Ryloth

"The costs of war can never be truly accounted for."

Okay, so Obi-Wan Kenobi can speak Twi'lek. And he can control animals like the Pied Piper. Well of course. He's a Jedi. The clones did well, by the way. Lots of ground action. My only problem was that little Twi'lek girl. She's not cute. She's creepy.

*pic from starwars.com


Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Episode 19: Storm Over Ryloth

"It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness."

Now this is Star Wars. War in the stars. Now who doesn't love starships and dogfights? Of course everything takes place over the planet Ryloth, so we don't get to see much of the Twi'leks. But we do see the predecessor of Darth Vader's shuttle Tydirium. And lots of dogfights. Wait, I already said that.

*pic from starwars.com


Bellyfest 2010

First-off, yey for us! We won something. We're now one of the ten bloggers who will get PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association) season passes.

As part of our prize, we were invited to their first show, the Bellyfest 2010.

In another blog, I've written about stage reviews (I think I've written about one play here). Anyhoo, the Bellyfest 2010 was a whole day event so I'll speak briefly about the event and then move on to reviewing the performance.

The Event
The event was sponsored by Slenda. There were booths that sold Middle-eastern accessories, Turkish food, and glitter tattoos. There were also workshops on belly dancing, capoeira, and wushu. It was a feast for the senses. I think the event could have used more space and more seating, though. Also, the martial arts seemed out of place.

The Show
*cracks knuckles*
The performers were people from belly dancing workshops, professional belly dancers, a capoeira group, and a group of young wushu practitioners. It was divided into two parts.

The first part was a story (that seemed like a an amateurish retelling of a Paolo Coelho novel, with all due respect) that had a guy travelling all over the world, meeting these different dancers to find the perfect gift for his beloved, only to realize his beloved was the most perfect thing of all.

Apart from the capoeira and the wushu (which was awesome, by the way), the other dances were clearly belly dances disguised as Flamenco, a Chinese fan dance, and an Egyptian dance. Like, a belly dancer puts on a red skirt and says, "Hey, I'm from Spain."

I think it would have been better if they stuck to introducing each dance straightforwardly, like in the second part.

The second part of the show featured professional and hobbyist dancers from India, Australia and the Philippines. There were a group of teen belly dancers from Batangas who were good. But they looked so serious.

The highlights of this part of the show and the day were 1) A group of 6 to 7-year olds belly dancing; 2) Priya Murugusan's number, who earlier did a Bollywood teach; 3) international belly dancer Belynda Azhaar who shimmied on a drum; and 4) Sundee Vinas, from Batangas, who belly danced while balancing a sword on her head.

All in all, I give the show a 7/10. Here's a video of Sundee Vinas dancing. Enjoy.

*video from limnelson1


Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

This film both succeeds and fails at the same time.

First, it succeeds as a blockbuster. Now this is what I call a real summer blockbuster: action-packed, filled with swashbuckling, and lots of parkour. Reminded me of Pirates of the Caribbean, actually, except for the parkour, of course. And it didn't help that both Pirates and Persia were produced by the man known as Jerry Bruckheimer.

The film also manages to capture the essence of the video game it was based on. I was even momentarily transported back to my childhood, when I would play Prince of Persia in green and black. That's the old PC, by the way, with the floppy disks that really flop.

Second, this film fails technically. There were a lot of lapses, especially in editing. I could forgive one, or maybe two instances. But there were just too much, I'm sorry. Blame it all on director Mike Newell. Some shots were too awkward, some shots involved mismatched eyelines, while some shots were just plain wrong. I'm speaking from a filmmaker's perspective, of course. Regular moviegoers wouldn't probably notice it, but it's as jarring as hearing an orchestra play one note out of tune. Cinematic viewing should be a seamless experience. Oh well. Newell is a newbie, so deal with it.

To end on a lighter note, the cast did just great. Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton's sexual tension was all over the screen. Halfway through the film, I was already shouting, "Come on, have sex already!" But like typical summer blockbusters geared for the younger set, this film saturates you with sexual tension, then ends it with a single kiss. A single kiss, can you imagine that?

I honestly thought the guy who played King Tus was Karl Urban, the guy who played Eomer in Lord of the Rings. Well, turns out he wasn't Karl Urban. His name is Richard Coyle, and he sure can play Karl Urban's stunt double.

Ben Kingsley was great, but not as great as Alfred Molina, who stole every single scene he was in. Every second of Molina's screen time is priceless. And for that, he is disqualified. He is just too damn good.

So for succeeding as a blockbuster, and failing as a technical work, this film gets a passing score.

*some info from IMDb
pic from filmofilia.com

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. USA. 2010.

Rating: Six out of ten.
Blockbuster elements: Nine out of ten.
Editing errors: Zero out of ten.
Alfred Molina: Disqualified.


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