Da Couch Tomato

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Review: An Open Letter to Spectre

Because skull = ghost = spectre, get it?

Dear Spectre,

I'm sorry, but you have failed.

No, not in your storytelling, or in your narrative execution, or in any other technical element. You have failed as an action film.

What's my basis for saying that, you ask? My basis is you made me doze off. I fell asleep for up to five minute-stretches. Yeah, granted I probably wasn't in tip-top condition while viewing, but that argument is invalid, as I've been able to stay awake watching a few action flicks in the past, despite not having had any sleep the night before. Yes, I understand that action flicks, like roller coaster rides, have lull moments in between action sequences. But you have to either 1) make the lull moments short enough to prevent you from sleeping, or 2) make the action sequences very intense to give you enough adrenaline to carry you through the lull moments. And isn't Sam Mendes more of a drama director?

What's that? You say the Daniel Craig reboot of James Bond flicks is actually the most realistic series in the whole Bond canon, and that action sequences in real life aren't that intense? Really now... well what about that helicopter malfunction over that Mexican plaza? Realistic? Okay, sure, that could happen. Well then, what about Léa Seydoux's character saying "I love you" after such a short time with 007? Exactly.

Now with regard to the theme song, do you guys have a problem with the movie and song sharing the same title? What do you mean "no"? In all twenty-two Bond films (except the first, of course, because the theme song tradition started with the second film From Russia With Love) prior to the latest reboot, only three theme songs did not have the same title as the movie. Three. Out of twenty-two. Now compare that with the reboot from 2006's Casino Royale to the present. Only one film, Skyfall, shared its title with its theme song. Please explain. Who was responsible for this film-theme song title mismatch? Was it Daniel Craig? Or was Adele the only artist who put her foot down and insisted on using the same title? It was Daniel Craig, wasn't it?

Anyway, this was supposed to be a review, but it turned into an open rant letter instead. Again, I blame Daniel Craig.

Oh Craig, you lucky bastard.

Spectre. UK. 2015.

Rating: 7.0 / 10
Christoph Waltz wearing shoes without socks: -0.1
Monica Belluci sex scene: +0.1
Underutilising Ben Whishaw: -0.1
Final rating: 6.9 / 10


Review: The Martian, or How Matt Damon Is Saved for the Nth Time

Not red enough, so this is probably Utah.

I expected this to be another heavy space drama. My only basis for that, of course, was the poster, showing Matt Damon in a spacesuit. The last time we saw him in that get-up was in Interstellar, as the stranded scientist-turned-douchebag Dr. Mann, and we all know how heavy that was.

Well, the premise was pretty heavy enough. After a Martian sandstorm ruins NASA's exploration team, the entire mission is told to evacuate. One man, of course, gets left behind. Everyone thought he died. But he didn't. Tough luck for Matt Damon, because he's actually still alive. So the "Martian" in the title is actually an Earthling that just happens to be stranded on Mars.

This isn't exactly a survival movie like Castaway; neither is it a film about the loneliness and isolation of man in the blackness of space. This is actually a feel-good movie, with humour as its main ingredient. And to make sure that the comedy takes center stage, the filmmakers made sure to cast popular comic faces like Kristen Wiig, Donald Glover, and Michael Peña.

That, in my opinion, is what makes this movie work. You have to counter-balance the heavy premise of being left alone to die on the Red Planet with the comedy of... being left alone to die on the Red Planet. Am I making sense? Probably not. But that's how Sir Ridley Scott was able to pull this off, making sure that despite having Jessica Chastain and Matt Damon as two of the film's lead stars, we viewers won't even think of it as a rip-off of the philosophically heavy drama of Interstellar.

P.S. Go read the book. It's way funnier.

The Martian. USA. 2015.

Original rating: 8.0 / 10
Jeff Daniels' character from The Newsroom being a perfect fit for NASA's director: + 0.1
Entire film not feeling like a Ridley Scott flick: + 0.1
Final rating: 8.2 / 10


Coming Soon: The Sherlock Special, or That's the sound of Cumberbitches' panties dripping dropping

Deerstalker + pipe + horse-drawn carriage = orgasm.

Okay, BBC. You've hit a gold mine with your modernisation of Sherlock Holmes, thanks to Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. But this, what is this? A Sherlock special set in Victorian London? Martin Freeman with a handlebar moustache? Horse-drawn carriages on cobblestone streets? And Benedict Cumberbatch wearing a deerstalker in its proper context?

Yes, please. Now when is this?


Video: Most. Adorable. Press. Conference. Ever.

Sorry, but even though this post involves kids, we will not be using the word "adorbz" here.

Even though it's been some time since Pharrell Williams ditched his "Happy" hat and traded it in for this "Freedom" hat, Pharrell's new book has only recently come out. Entitled "Happy", it's a picture book inspired by his song of the same title and is about, well, being happy. But the best thing about the release of this book is probably the press conference he had with a bunch of British kids, which you can see in the video below.


Inside Heneral Luna: 10 Questions With Actor Nico Antonio On His Role as Andres Bonifacio

Putrizk @ Wordpress

The film Heneral Luna has enjoyed so much success that the Internet has exploded with countless memes and image macros about the film. We, however, were more curious about the man who ignited this country's revolutionary fire, none other than Supremo Andres Bonifacio. We managed to interview the actor who played Bonifacio in Heneral Luna, Mr. Nico Antonio, more popularly known for his role as Antonio "Tolayts" Tolentino in ABS-CBN's teleserye On the Wings of Love.

1. How long have you been acting professionally? Do you have a background in theatre?
I have been acting since 2003 (my first acting gig was a cameo role for Minsan Pa (2003 movie by Jeffrey Jeturian). Re: theater experience, I used to be part of Tanghalang Ateneo.

2. Did you have to go through auditions for this movie? Which part did you originally audition for, and which roles were you shortlisted for?
For my part in Heneral Luna, I was made to read the Mi Ultimo Adios of Rizal in Tagalog, since I was auditioning for his role. Pero napunta ako kay Bonifacio, which is not bad.

3. Have you always been a history buff since your school days?
Ay oo! Ang hilig ko sa history. Mapa-Philippines, Asian, o world.

4. What were your actual lines in the film? Did you have more lines in the original script? If yes, how did you feel about having your lines cut short?
Ang katangi-tanging linya ko ay "Procopio!" (dahil pinatay ng mga sundalong Pilipino ang kapatid ko). Tapos n'un, pinagtataga na nila ako.

5. How many minutes was your total screen time in the final cut of the film? Were you happy about it?
Ten seconds? Hahaha. Oo naman. Happy ako kasi kasama pa rin ako sa pelikula. May kasabihan nga eh: "There are no small roles; only small actors."

6. What was it like working under Jerrold Tarog?
Masaya. I have worked with him sa movie na Sana Dati. Cool lang siya at he trusts you as an actor. Magsasabi lang siya kung ano gusto niya mangyari sa eksena tapos bahala na ako.

7. How is working on a feature film like this different from working on your teleserye On the Wings of Love?
Wala namang pinagkaiba as I treat every role I play with the same enthusiasm and passion. Ang pagkakaiba lang siguro ay ang bayad. Hehe.

8. How has your role as Andres Bonifacio changed your view on the national hero? How has it changed your view on other national heroes (such as the ones responsible for his death, etc)?
The funny thing about playing Bonifacio is that I had a prior role where I portrayed aguinaldo in this 8-part series entitled Katipunan (with Sid Lucero as Bonifacio; it was shown on GMA 7). Nakakatuwa lang na ginampanan ko ang parehong katauhan. Bilang paghahanda, nagbasa-basa rin ako tungkol sa kanila at sa kasaysayan ng Katipunan. Wala namang naiba sa pagtingin ko kay Bonifacio maliban sa higit akong humanga sa kanya habang kinamuhian ko naman si Aguinaldo. Ngunit kung aaralin mo ang background ni Aguinaldo, malalaman mong pulitiko talaga siya bago siya sumali sa Katipunan kaya hindi na rin ako nagtataka sa mga naging paraan niya.

9. What were the reactions of your mother, your wife, and/or other members of your family on your limited screen time?
Masaya sila at proud. :-)

10. Will you be in the sequel about Gregorio Del Pilar? If yes, can we expect more screen time from you, or at least some more dialogue? Or will you practically play another dead body?
Depende sa magiging treatment nina Direk Jerrold and his team. :-)

Interview by GP and Karlo Abrajano

Watch Nico Antonio in On the Wings of Love which airs on ABS-CBN, weekdays at 9:10 PM.


Review: Heneral Luna, or Manood na ang mga hindi pa nagsisipanood, puñeta!

John Arcilla IS Antonio Luna.

I have been waiting for the film that would bring Da Couch Tomato out of retirement. And I never expected it to be a Filipino film.

Viewers and critics have been hailing this as “the hope of Philippine cinema”. That would, of course, be unfair to other contemporary filmmakers, because we wouldn’t call their films “hopeless” now, would we? But I think we all agree that Heneral Luna is definitely a breath of fresh air in this Hollywood-saturated market. And as Hollywood continues its downward spiral of remakes and reboots, we definitely need more films like this.

Here are six reasons why you should go see Heneral Luna on the big screen, and not wait for the torrent to come out. (Shame on you!)

Box office sales mean revenue for the filmmakers
Which in turn is the yardstick by which a film’s success is measured. If it makes enough money, that means people actually watch films like these, and that means studios need to make more of these movies so viewers can watch them and generate money for the studios to make more movies… you get the drift. It’s a cycle, and also an upward spiral.

It’s Philippine history
Granted, the filmmakers have posted a disclaimer at the beginning about taking creative liberties and artistic license. But if it’s films like these that would make grade school students head to the library to borrow actual history books, if only to find out what really went down during the Revolution, then the filmmakers have done a good job.

It’s a great production
The entire production, from the costumes to the make-up to the sets to the cinematography to the camera movement to the special effects, were excellent, especially the visual reference to the older Luna’s masterpiece “The Spoliarium”. If ever there were any lapses or inconsistencies, I either didn’t notice them, or I let them slide. No viewer would let nitpicking get in the way of an awesome viewing experience.

Probably one of the most awesome frames and references in this film.

It's got an awesome acting ensemble
John Arcilla, of course, was the true star, and like a general on the battlefield, his mere presence in the film practically raises the other actors' performances to their A-game. Epy Quizon as Apolinario Mabini was brilliant. Archie Alemania was great as the film's comic relief, while Mon Confiado as the stoic president of the First Republic nailed the look on the old 5-peso bill down to the flattop. I just thought the young Manuel L. Quezon wasn't mestizo enough, and Arron Villaflor as the writer Joven was probably this film's weakest link, maybe due in part to him sharing most of his screen time with Antonio Luna. And speaking of screen time, we wish we'd seen more of Nico Antonio as Supremo Andres Bonifacio.

It utilised the Unified Cinematic Universe Theory (patent pending)
I had this same idea a few years back, and I call dibs on the UCU Theory, should I decide to write an academic paper on it. This technique was started by television spin-offs, such as Cheers - Frasier, and more recently Breaking Bad - Better Call Saul. Its cinematic use was popularised by the Marvel superhero film franchises, wherein different films share a connected universe, utilising the same actors and a shared inter-connected storyline. This film has a sequel, which we can surmise will be about Heneral Gregorio "Goyong" del Pilar, and will still star Paulo Avelino as the boy general, which was revealed in a very, very short segment stuck in the middle of the end credits. Just like in a Marvel movie.

It achieved its intended effect(s)
Some of which are: renewed nationalism, historical rediscovery, national pride, new perspective on old history lessons, collective online conversations and debates, an Oscar-nomination campaign, new-found respect for Filipino movies, and countless and priceless Heneral Luna memes.

Heneral Luna, scanning the horizon for an Oscar nomination.

Heneral Luna.Philippines. 2015.

Rating: 8.9 / 10


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