Tuesday, October 20, 2015

2015 in Movies, 49-60

These are all the movies I've seen since the start of internship, or in the span of 16 weeks. I did finish the latest seasons of "Modern Family" and "Game of Thrones," as well as "Glee's" final one. Still, I catch myself thinking, what a paltry list. And we only have less than three months to go before the year ends.

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"Singin' in the Rain."

49. The Break-up Playlist (dir. Dan Villegas)

"Paano bang magmahal," Piolo Pascual sings, and the first thought that comes to mind is, why is he singing like that? Seriously, guys, why is Piolo whining? It's like a pebble got stuck inside one of his nostrils. Nobody, not even his co-star, bothers to answer him; Sarah Geronimo is too busy trying to show off the embarrassing amount of restraint she has evidently put into her performance, even the creases on her clothes are screaming, "Internal!" (You can almost hear Nora Aunor's teary-eyed applause in the background.) Last year, we had to deal with "Begin Again," which fancied itself a clever, relevant musical film; "The Break-up Playlist" feels earthier, more laid-back, heartfelt, authentic, and because it's directed and written by the Dan Villegas-Antoinette Jadaone master tandem, its sins are all too easily forgiven.

50. Minions (dirs. Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda)

They actually made a movie in pure gibberish--and I liked it! Some conspiracy theorists think these minions are Hollywood's way of promoting devil worship. After all, the cute little things make it their mission to seek out the most evil person/creature there is, from the T-Rex to Napoleon. What utter rubbish! "Minions" is the film industry's way of telling us it's okay to be a kid at heart and that it's perfectly reasonable to love a movie in which the language makes absolutely no sense.   

51. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009, dir. David Yates)

Darkness made elegant. Dumbledore dead. Helena Bonham-Carter destroying the Great Hall. Ginny harnessing her slutty side. Hermione realizing she has a slutty side. The dark side triumphant. 

52. Guardians of the Galaxy (dir. James Gunn)

I'm not a fan of Marvel, but I'll be damned if there's a better opening scene from a 2014 movie than that of Chris Pratt, in space traveler chic, suddenly breaking into dance to Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love" in that abandoned stony wasteland. 

53. Inside Out (dir. Pete Docter)

Movies that made me cry: "Lilo and Stitch," "Toy Story 3," "Finding Nemo," "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," "The Lion King," "An Affair to Remember," "The Bridges of Madison County," "Got 2 Believe," etc. "Inside Out" came nowhere near my tear ducts, but the intelligence of this film completely surprised and satisfied the aspiring psychiatrist in me. 

54. Singin' in the Rain (1952, dirs. Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen)

The international touring production of "Singin' in the Rain," based on this movie, was an exquisitely mounted but unfairly unattended production. It ran for three weeks at the Theater at Solaire, and during the final week, they had to slash ticket prices by 50%. Still, that was not enough to draw audiences in--and what a waste! Nobody could ever possibly match Gene Kelly, but--dare I say this--the women, Bethany Dickson (in the Debbie Reynolds role) and Taryn Lee Hudson (in the Jean Hagen role), felt more organic than their film counterparts, bringing surprising warmth and authenticity to their characters. 

55. Heneral Luna (dir. Jerrold Tarog)

"Heneral Luna" felt like "On the Job" all over again--a time when even the most unlikely people suddenly became self-professed cinephiles and started heralding a "new age" in Filipino filmmaking, whatever that meant. Is "Heneral Luna" a bad movie? Far from it. It is obviously a product of hard work and imagination. It has its fair share of beautiful shots (the dream sequence in the Parisian café is gorgeously surreal). It has John Arcilla painting the most persuasive portrait of a volatile leader. The script's turn-of-the-century Tagalog is music to the ears, and the effort to make it accessible to modern and/or young audiences is laudable (For example: "Handang magtapon ng dugo ang totoong makabayan. Hindi pagdurusa ang pagdaan sa napakatinding pasakit. Para kang tumanggap ng basbas, parang pag-ibig). We just have to open our eyes a little wider, or read a bit more, and realize that "Heneral Luna" is not the first excellent movie to come out since "On the Job." That's the real bullshit, my friends.

56. Taklub (dir. Brillante Mendoza)

I wish I could say I thoroughly enjoyed this latest Nora Aunor; that all I felt were the sadness of the Yolanda victims depicted and the harrowing emptiness of their ravaged home. But that would be a lie. Because Mendoza's handheld camerawork was so shaky, it gave me a headache. And it came to a point that I could no longer bear it, so I stood up and left. With still a third of the movie to go.    

57. Etiquette for Mistresses (dir. Chito Roño)

There's Kris Aquino playing Kris Aquino, Claudine Barretto playing Claudine Barretto, and a piece of dialogue that goes, "Timezone tayo mamaya." Also, there's an untouched pancit canton dinner, Kim Chiu trying her best to play cheap (it can be argued that she actually need not try so hard), and a jet escape to China with Iza Calzado, but that's all beside the matter. Rating: RECOMMENDED!

58. The Martian (dir. Ridley Scott)

"The Martian" is this year's "Interstellar," except it doesn't have Matthew McConaughey spouting corny declarations of love being the answer to everything in a wormhole. It is also this year's "Apollo 13," except it doesn't take its scientific shiz too seriously (meaning, we somehow processed all the deep shit they were talking about, not that we actually retained it or made our brains understand it). "The Martian" has Matt Damon, a great actor who knows how to make didactic dialogue sound pedestrian and humorous, the way Tom Hanks can make oratory sound like the most spontaneous thing. Damon plays a botanist who grows potatoes in Mars, and Jessica Chastain is his captain, and towards the end, during the requisite ("pivotal" simply won't cut it) rescue scene, they float and bounce and roll in space in spools of red ribbon against a backdrop of Martian red, and that entire sequence just burst of unsullied cinematic beauty, I had to cry.

59. Crimson Peak (dir. Guillermo del Toro)

First there was an insanely sharp pen. Then a short knife. Then a long knife. Then a butcher's knife. Then a shovel. And that was what finally killed Lucille Sharpe--two blows to the head with a shovel, delivered by Alice in Cumberland. But really, "Crimson Peak" the movie is not scary at all; it is vastly entertaining, in the way that seeing Mia Wasikowska suffer onscreen is entertaining (she's really good at portraying helplessness). The one genuinely scary part about "Crimson Peak" is Jessica Chastain, who acts the hell out of Lucille, she deserves to be recognized come year's end. After all, it's not every day you see such a tremendous performance in a so-called horror flick.

60. Bridge of Spies (dir. Steven Spielberg)

Everybody must have that Steven Spielberg movie that made them realize, "Hey, I'm watching the work of a master." "Schindler's List" is mine, even though I have my qualms about that ending. "Bridge of Spies" is a film where every frame is a necessary fragment of the story, where every shot was deliberately inserted in its current place because it's the only way the entire thing could make actual sense. The film, about the moral grey areas that the Cold War brought forth to our global consciousness, is literally shaded in hues of gray, that its nature as a spy film is almost a consequence of its camera work. It opens with three images of one person (you have to watch to find out how this is so)--Mark Rylance, who speaks a million words through the shortest of silences. Much of "Bridge of Spies" runs this way--lines crossed and crisscrossed, ambiguities illuminated then made murkier, exactness in form and spirit reduced to formless air. 

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