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Blood Diamond

This is the film where I thought, "Wow, Leonardo DiCaprio has matured, finally."

And it's not because he speaks with a Rhodesian accent here. I haven't really heard authentic Rhodesian, so I wouldn't know. But you can sense Leo's dedication to the art of acting, and it shows in every movement of his body, every twitch of his muscles.

I think Orlando Bloom could've taken lessons from DiCaprio. Leonardo DiCaprio is living proof that great actors are made, not born.

Jennifer Connelly always looks good on camera. I've liked her since Labyrinth. And she ages with such grace, I envy Paul Bettany.

I like Djimon Hounsou when he acts normal. But when he starts shouting like a madman, like that "Give us us free" mode, he can sound pretty annoying. It's like a caged animal that will kill the first person it comes into contact with. Now isn't that frightening?

*some info from IMDb
pic from jasoncollin.org

Blood Diamond. USA/Germany. 2006 (2007 Philippines).

Rating: Six and a half out of ten.


Date Night

I personally find Steve Carell hilarious. Some people don't like him. Well, I do.

Tina Fey is cute as ever, but she has been shadowed by an even cuter, sexier girl who goes by the name of Leighton Meester. Yum.

Ray Liotta is still doing gangster roles. Isn't he a bit old to keep doing that? And by the way, he does look old. Older than how I remember him, of course.

Olivia Munn may have a cameo, but she doesn't look as hot here as she does on TV. And I'm sorry, Leighton Meester is hotter.

And the winners for this movie are:
  1. James Franco ─ Again, like in Pineapple Express, for acting weird roles, and refusing to be typecast as a Hollywood pretty boy.
  2. Mark Wahlberg ─ Mr. Shirtless himself has inspired me to lift weights.
  3. William Fichtner ─ Any movie with Fichtner in it is a treat to watch. He is such a natural actor, he doesn't even have to talk. He can act with just facial expressions.
  4. Mark Ruffalo ─ Despite the less than five minute-screen time, this is the first time I've seen him look scruffy. And it works. The scruffiness, I mean.
  5. Leighton Meester ─ Last, but definitely not the least. Leighton Meester is so hot, she makes ice cubes melt in Alaska in winter. What?

*some info from IMDb
pic from ugo.com

Date Night. USA. 2010.

Rating: Six and a half out of ten.


Shutter Island

It's a nice movie for two reasons: First, it's directed by Martin Scorsese. Second, it doesn't feel like it's directed by Martin Scorsese.

Now those two may seem contradictory at first, but they're not. Martin Scorsese is one of the most engaging directors in Hollywood today, and his films draw you deep into the world it creates. What you can expect from a Scorsese picture is clear storytelling, powerful performances, basic yet really effective camera work.

Now on to the second point. Scorsese's style is different in the sense that he has no style. Or it seems that he has none. That's because of his versatility. You cannot really definitely say that a film is Scorsese's based on the visuals or the narrative style. Scorsese can actually direct anything. I bet he could direct a romantic comedy if he wanted to. But I don't think he's into that sort of thing.

Anyway, probably the only indicator that this is a Martin Scorsese picture is Leonardo DiCaprio. I think DiCaprio is to Scorsese as Tom Hanks is to Steven Spielberg. Or maybe that's not such a good analogy. DiCaprio is like Scorsese's muse. But I don't think Hanks is Spielberg's muse. I'm not entirely sure, really.

Mark Ruffalo plays the sidekick so well that he doesn't even try be anything but a sidekick. He's a great team player, Ruffalo. Ben Kingsley, on the other hand, is subtly annoying. You'll hate him at first because of his villainous sneer. But then when he turns out to be not so bad after all, you'll realize that his sneer is actually an annoying smile. Brilliant.

*some info from IMDb
pic from movie-vault.com

Shutter Island. USA. 2010.

Rating: Seven point nine out of ten.
Number of times Scorsese's name is mentioned in this review: Ten.


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By The Negation
Sat, 24 Jul 2010, 7:10

What can I say? I'm stumped! This flick is the shizzlenit! It's a thinkin' man's movie. If you're left with zero questions when this film ends, that doesn't mean that you are a movie expert. That means you can't understand shit because you can't comprehend a single thing that's happenin'!

Well anyway, I could go on forever explaining what the hell happened and everything. But I can't, because this film has a lot of intricate complexities. I admit that it's more complex than The Matrix. I could actually compare this to The Matrix (with the Architect and other stuff like that). I could say that "Inception is the new Matrix". Without the "Geta-Zone" shots of course. But still, Inception's effects were eye candy to say the least.

Christopher Nolan is a thinkin' man's director. He made my mind work in The Prestige and The Dark Knight (hence, the familiar Batman Begins/Dark Knight faces in Inception like Cillian ["Kill-Yan"] Murphy and Michael Cain), but I didn't really expect him to make my mind work this much in this movie. Damn Inception! I'm still hung-over. This rant was due a week ago, but I'm just waiting to exhale after the movie. In fact, I will watch this again this coming Sunday! But first, I must watch The Sorcerer's Apprentice and The Last Airbender. Fuck Salt for now.

All I can say is that I give this movie a perfect 10 out of 10 due to the fact that it was all Nolan. Well DiCaprio was pretty impressive too. I haven't watched Blood Diamond yet but my couch tomato bro told me that Leo's acting chops started to sharpen up in this movie. I hope Orlando Bloom's acting goes the same direction as Leonardo's.

Another thing, I'm Asian. And so is Ken Watanabe. 'Nuff said!

(More reviews on Inception after the jump.)


Aliens in the Attic

I was supposed to take my afternoon weekend nap when by elder brother played this. You see, I was in his room to get a share of his a/c to save some bucks on electricity. He played it with his new booming speakers. I didn't have a choice.

Aliens in The Attic
is a movie that is just about that: aliens who took refuge in an attic while they plan on how to take over the world. It just so happens that the house is occupied by humans: a family with a hormonal teenager and her douche bag boyfriend, geek-versus-cool teenage boys (with daddy issues), game-freak twins, and princess innocent. Let's not spoil the plot because it's really something new. Not.

Surprisingly though, I enjoyed watching this movie with a five-year-old very eagerly telling me what's happening on the screen, and laughing out loud on slapstick scenes. I admit, I had small short bursts of laughter or side smiles. It's been a while since I'd seen those kinds of scenes. Refreshing? Not really. Badly needed? For a lack of control of the DVD player, maybe.

The aliens were not cute (well, one was trying to be cute) or funny in my taste. They're four bunch of slapsticks-ers. Of the cast, the only one I know by name is Ashley Tisdale, the hormonal teenager. I see potential in her but she really needs to get out of the genre Disney pushed her in since the High School Musical movies. The male lead (to search for his name in IMDb would be a waste of my time, at least for this movie) got the I-don't-care-rebellious teenager look all too much that he rarely had any other kind of facial expression. Everyone else was so-so.

Something to note though, it is kinda true that "geek is the new cool." But it's not so much well executed for this movie's advantage.

Aliens In the Attic gets three-point-five out of ten, for being an okay family movie "trying" to make math and science look cool. It gets a zero-point-five more for the laugh-out-loud boyfriend-versus-grandmother fight scene.

*photo from qtorr.com


The Literary Apprentice 2009

The Literary Apprentice 2009 is a literary folio from the University of the Philippines Writers Club. It features works of the organization's members, alumni, and works from contributors. The best thing about it is its cover. Few local books accomplish a cover that others are envious of. I am not exaggerating. Well, okay, I am. But I can even go as far as saying, the cover of the book is fuckable. Yes, fuckable.

But as I am too lazy, imaginary audience, you all just have to settle for an old-school webcam shot. Keep in mind, the cover's prettier that my webcam will allow it to be.

First off, poems. To be specific, poems that I do not understand. Or whatever genre they want to classify it. But I'm classifying it under I-do-not-understand-these-so-I-don't-really-care-about-these-works. Yes, it's me, not them.

"Precipe" by Judd Willis
"Endo" by Debbie Nieto
"Last Day in the Red-Light Division of Fine Arts" by Alexandra Paredes
"Watermelon Sugarbaby" by Wyatt Ong
"Pigs on their way to slaughter" by Ayn Frances dela Cruz
"Highly Improbable but Likely" by Leslie Marie Prestoza
"Focus" by Wyatt Ong
"Folds" by Bernaddette Canay
"After" by Melissa Villa-Real Basmayor
"Everything merges with the night" by Adam David

With that aside, let's go on with the show. I'm warning you, this is a long show.

1. "Wingmaker" by Clara Buenconsejo

This is the writer that really made an impression on me among the others in this folio. I guess I'm just inclined to like pop-culturish stuff. "Wingmaker" is about someone who brought wings from an old mysterious man with goals of winning in a cosplay. I like how there is no blatant sense into its ending. Just cuteness.

2. "Holes" by Bernadette Canay

A poem that has blood and guns in it. I like it already.

3. "Espasyo" by Sierra Mae C. Paraan

A simple erotic piece that left me saying, "Aw, that's nice." Although I think it was meant to be sad.

4. "Quiapo" by John Paul Abellera

A story about a beggar kid exploited by a foreign photojournalist. It has potential but I guess that thing that bothers me about this short story is that I don't believe the author actually captured how a beggar kid would think. It still comes off as what a bourgeoisie author would think a beggar kid would think.

5. "Guhit" by Mary Anne M. Umali

THIS IS THE BEST STORY EVER. Kidding. Anyhow, it's weird (and probably unacceptable) to review this, I'll just dish the summary. It's about a high schooler obsessed with dissection.

6. "Bilang ng pinaslang na mamahayag tumataas" by Sierra Mae C. Paraan

A short story on journalist killings from a sad personal point of view. The author adopted an appropriate storytelling method and there's something very visual about its strong, silent ending. Which of course, is always fabulous.

7. "Desisyon" by Alexandra Paredes

A poem I felt I've already read from a high school publication.

8. "Prelude to Redemption" by Santiago Villafania

Summary: poets will redeem their Adamhood. Wait, so poets have to become... men?

9. "Latchkey Child" by Debbie Nieto

It's about, surprise! A very happy kid. Okay, it's not. It's about a latchkey child. How did you guess? The child also self-lacerates. Literally, with a blade. It's a sad poem. It's a sad poem that hates the mother. Pffft. People, stop blaming your mother for all your emptiness!

10. "Lighter" by Carmina Jariel

Just another cigarette poem.

11. "At night he tiptoes" by Oscar Serquina

A boy who witnesses his mother having sex. I actually liked it. Minus the jargon.

12. "When Will God Be Sick" by Jezriel Mangalit

So, what I can I say about this poem? Um, the title is cute.

13. "Ferryboat Rides" by Maria EJ Pia Benosa

I love it. No, not because I can relate to company outings, shut up. I love it because it's old school perfect. It's about an engaged woman finally admitting to herself during a company outing that her soon-to-be husband is an asshole.

14. "Wilting" by Leirald Reyes

Just another wilting flower poem.

15. "Alethea" by U Eliserio

Another BEST STORY EVERRR. Okay, kidding again. Another work it'd be weird for me to review because I was a part of its editing. It's about lesbians. And the usual guilt game. I still have to say that the author has written better works on lesbianism than this story.

16. "Sa Panggabi" by Bernadette Canay

A simple poem of bedtime storytelling. Cute and nostalgic enough.

17. Excerpt from Si Maricar, Ang Puno, Ang Libro, at Ang Baby by Surot Matias

Probably an excerpt from a chic lit novel. If chic lit means characters about working girls and their gay friends. It's a funny story. I just really hate those Terry Pratchett footnotes. I think only Terry Pratchett does them footnotes well.

18. "If this isn't Love," by Aaron Galzote

It's a story about a guy in love/obsessed with a prostitute. You would think that would make a proper plot enough but there's something utterly wrong about this story that I can't pinpoint. Probably sexism.

19. "Southbound" by Pola Del Monte

You know those typical pop songs with typical lyrics that go "I miss you/ Now the sky is blue/ But what do I do/ I'm so in love with you" And you say, ugh, this is so typical but you say awww anyway because you've just experienced heartbreak. "Southbound" is like that.

20. "Familiarity" by Ivy Jean Vibar

Another mother angst poem. But at least there's a reversal of roles between the father and the mother.

21. "Pimples" by Zaldy Dandan

I had a teacher in high school who feels she's a great poet because she writes poems about spiders. She said great poets can write about anything ordinary. This is the point where some students secretly smirk. And somehow, the anecdote I just shared with you, imaginary audience, has something to do with this "Pimple" poem.

22. "This Side's for Loners" by Ronn Angeles

Um, so a poem for the loners. I think I'm being too harsh and I really want to stop being harsh. But it's corny.

23. "III. Pag-iwas sa Kalungkutan" by Genaro Gojo Cruz

One comment: Why do we like hurting cats?

24. "Bugbog" by Chuckberry J. Pascual

Rape. Effectively disturbing.

25. "Listahan ni Aling Amelya" by Ronn Angeles

One comment: Um, yeah.

26. "Bulalakaw" by Ronald R. Ramos Jr.

This work is about? Guess. Again, I hate being mean but is this all we can come up with?

27. "Overdue" by Debbie Nieto

A rape poem done proper. I can go as far as saying it's cool. And you don't see the words rape and cool together much.

28. "He said/She thinks" by Alexandra Paredes

How heterosexual love works. Nice because it's true. And it's always nice when you can mix the function of words and love together.

29. "Kung Gagahasain Ang Mga Cyborg Ba'y Dumaraing Din?" by Sarah Grutas

I started this story thinking I was going to be bored with it. And with that condescending air of "Meh, yeah, yeah, you write about cyborgs and you're cool?" But the author proved me wrong, and I love being proved wrong. It's a nice blend of identity and woman issues. And let's not forget, kick-ass.

30. "Aguinaldo" by Carmina Jariel

One cute feature of The Literay Apprentice 2009 is you can play with the layout and blend in pictures with your work for the proper delivery you would like your work to have. I don't get why the text of Aguinaldo is placed sideways. It's as if it's trying to be cute.

31. "Mileage" by Sarah Matias

A short story on a common life evolution of a bourgeois family. It goes against the rule of stereotypical-characters-for-stories-suck. This story does not suck. This story is win.

32. "The tao of the motel room attendant" by Zaldy Dandan

I would have loved this story if I can suspend disbelief. But reality crashes and makes me ask, motel attendants talk fancy? Wait, how come the motel I've been in doesn't have an attendant? Fuck, I'm cheap.

33. "Regular Casanova" by April E. Agustin

So how can I summarize this story without ruining its ending. I can't. Anyhow, it's interesting enough.

34. "Tira-tira" by Phillip Kimpo Jr.

First I was like, huh? And then I was like, oh! Those shock-stories mixed with urban poverty.

35. "Isa lang naman ang dahilan ng paghuhuramentado ng kanyang lama't loob" by Sierra Mae C. Paraan

Sierra, darling, I love you. Don't hate me for this comment. The story is typical meta.

36. "Hunger" by Clara Buenconsejo

Infection? Zombies? Aliens? Or is it just plain cannibalism? Favorite story in this collection! I'm shallow and predictable but who cares?

37. "The Infinite Lives of Marie San Juan" by Anne Lagamayo

Different girls, familiar girls, familiar stories. The author aced content and form. The kind of story you'd want to read again.

38. "Manitingon and the Skymaiden" by Kristine Marie T. Reynaldo

One of those inspired-by-epic stories that tries to be all Filipino-like but ends up being colonial. Also, if I were the protagonist, I won't forgive his or her jerky father. The story has lots of potential though.

39. "Night Parade" by Francelle Napura

So it talks about lights. During the night. And um, I believe it hopes to deliver a sense of nostalgia which I hoped to feel. But I didn't. Which confuses me because it's written well enough. There's no... umph to it.


I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)

Jim Carrey is gay, gay, gay, gay, gay!

Or at least as Steven Russell in this directorial debut of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. The film had been given positive reviews at Sundance and Cannes, despite withheld release by distributor disputes as well as Disney, who pushed the screening until after A Christmas Carol because they didn’t want the kids to think Uncle Scrooge was gay.

Maybe it’s just me sensationalizing Hollywood gay films (still a minority), and maybe it’s the casting director’s fault that I got excited. I saw the trailer in cinemas and I couldn’t believe it: Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, two award-winning and famously straight Hollywood actors will play lovers. Then the trailer said: ‘This really happened," and I was a believer.

Regardless of my opening line, this film is not about sexuality. It’s about living. And loving. Fiercely.

The film opens in a hospital, a man on his near-death bed narrating how his life has come to this: it’s because of love. Then clouds. Sweet music. Children laying on a field. A mother calling out to her child. Cut to: “We love you,” and “You’re adopted.” Strap on your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Steven Russell tries the best he could to please the people around him. He is a model husband, church-goer and police officer in Texas, until a car crash enables him to have a dramatic reassessment of his life. So he quit his job and left his family to live a flamboyantly gay life in Miami with his hot new boyfriend (Rodrigo Santoro). Gay life is expensive, but the bills didn’t stop him from overspending for the people he loves. He tried hurting himself, literally jumping off escalators, because insurance pays and he didn’t want to experience being abandoned again, like what his birth mother did.

Now, wasn’t that a cigarette brand in the title? Whether this would be a biographical revelation on how a person became a cigarette brand was something I resisted researching on. We shouldn’t kill the suspense. It wasn’t. The brand name, I found out only upon writing this review, had a single ‘L’ on Philip. Phillip Morris, with the double ‘L’, is the prison-mate, who Steve falls madly in love with. Blonde, blue-eyed and sensitive, he usually lies low to avoid being picked at by prison bullies. Phillip was shy at Steve’s sudden declaration of interest upon first meeting (my favorite scene, Ewan McGregor forever!), but Steve’s street-smarts won him over. He made the impossible at reach even in prison, and that’s saying something. When Steven was being transferred to another prison, Phillip sums up the courage to run out into the yard (where the bullies are) to declare his love across prison walls. In due time, Steven finishes his sentence and poses as a lawyer to get Philip out of his, wherein he succeeds by fishing (“I think you know what I’m talking about”) at the judge’s wrongdoings. After this is a series of conman tricks and prison break attempts. Phillip is angered by Steven's lies and refuses to remain in their relationship. Steven admits that he doesn’t know who he is and he’s been living a lie since he was born, but his love is true.

The movie vacillates between toilet humor and intense drama, and it does so unevenly that the viewer doesn’t know what to expect. I like it that way. Jim Carrey has brought with him his hysterics. This signature acting is so recognizable that it makes it harder to believe that he is still Steven Russell. However, the dramatic scenes he played so admirably, which maybe his best since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Ewan McGregor was, needless to say, *fabulous* from the Southern accent (he’s Scottish, by the way) down to the shy, feminine glances.

Russell’s case was first put into writing by Steven McViker for the Houston Chronicle. It’s a good thing that this happened for real and we remain in awe. If it weren’t, it would be so difficult to suspend belief that there still exists a love as resilient as this.

Sources: Ace Showbiz, Business World


Hot Tub Time Machine

Let's face it: the best time-travel movie is still Back to the Future. No question. And this movie doesn't even come close. Even if they did have a small part for Mr. George McFly himself, Crispin Glover.

Anyway, they were supposed to go back in time to 1986. But the only way you will feel that they are in the eighties is when you hear the soundtrack. Costumes were not too eighties enough for me. So were the hairstyles. In fact, you might even think it's a nineties flick.

And a hot tub time machine? Lame-o.

John Cusack isn't really that versatile an actor as I hope he would be. But at least he tries. Rob Corddry, on the other hand, is always funny. Embarrassingly funny, most of the time. Craig Robinson isn't too loud, but he is still funny nonetheless. Clark Duke, one of the dorks from Kick-Ass, looked like a fat lesbian aunt. But Crispin Glover still takes the cake.

*some info from IMDb
pic from baltimoresun.com

Hot Tub Time Machine. USA. 2010.

Rating: Five out of ten.
Crispin Glover's mere presence: Seven and a half out of ten.


The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

It's dubbed as the "best" book of the series, so does it follow that it’s the best film yet? The cinemas are jam-packed, and you can't even trace the never-ending snake line to the ticket booths. Thank God for reserved tickets.

The third installment The Twilight Saga: Eclipse focuses more on the love triangle between Jacob (Taylor Lautner), Bella (Kristen Stewart), and Edward (Robert Pattinson) or the wolf-human-vampire relations. It's also about a choice to live and be human or die but remain frozen "alive" (if you could call it that) forever. Add to that a vengeful redhead vampire with her army of newborns set to kill Bella to avenge her fallen mate.

Okay, I read all four books in a breeze, and to say that Eclipse is the best is a good call yet still contested. I really don’t want to compare books with film adaptations because they are different mediums with different formulas for success, but the book felt more... heartfelt, filled with more emotion and tension. I think maybe the three leads are lacking in something that I can’t quite put my finger on. Or maybe the franchise is so dependent on the books that they make the films as if it’s the audience’s responsibility to read the books first to fully enjoy the movie experience. It’s a good film only to a point where you get the story and some more. But you need the book to really understand the characters' subtexts and body language.

What may get the guys to give in and watch (if they haven’t jumped the Twilight bandwagon already) is the action. Action sequences are a one-up from the book. They were well executed and may keep you on the edge of your seat, but it will also leave you wanting that the vampires and werewolves show off their superhuman abilities more. A little room for laughter is always welcome with the three leads’ love-hate exchanges and the werewolf-vampire banters. But the most enjoyable performance for me is the scenes with Bella and her dad Charlie (Billy Burke). It makes the film more human, something like an escape if you feel saturated by the supernatural.

A few points though: One... werewolf boys look really yummy-good shirtless, but it was nice to see them with shirts on. Two... why the hell did they change Emmett and Esme's hair color to black? They look so different it's like they're completely new characters! Major boo. Three... I like the old Victoria actor better. She had natural curly red hair and a more "maldita" overall feel. No offense to Bryce Dallas Howard. Four... I love Jessica's graduation speech. Five... it's so refreshing to see a not-stiff Jasper. And lastly... special mention to Dakota Fanning for being the true voice of the antagonist, so much more dreadful than the newborn army.

After all that is said and done, if you're sort of a Twi-hard, a fan, follower, fanatic or whatever, you'll be more than satisfied. If you're not and you think this movie can usher you to becoming one of them, you might be disappointed. Or you can just soak in the romance, the action, and the laughs and enjoy.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
gets six out of ten, for, at least for me, a way better movie than its predecessor. It gets a zero-point-five more just for being the silly phenomenon that it is. Really.

*photo from allmoviephoto.com

You may also want to check out the other reviews for The Twilight Saga, such as New Moon and Breaking Dawn─Part 1.


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