Saturday, December 5, 2015

2015 in Movies, 69-75

"Love." Porn by any other name would look just the same.

69. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 (dir. Francis Lawrence)

Wow, "The Hunger Games" franchise in its last chapter, and Katniss Everdeen still has the same issues. "It's all my fault, it's all my fault," she cries. Girl, you been sayin' that since the first movie. A second observation: The lights department got a budget raise.

70. One More Chance (2007, dir. Cathy Garcia-Molina)

So I finally got around to watching the film most everyone I know who watches commercial Filipino flicks regards as a modern classic. And my reaction at the end of the movie was, This is it? It was going so well, and then came the third act, and things just became irritating. "I want to stop asking 'what if'; I want to know 'what is'." I mean, the fuck?! Like who the fuck speaks like that? And what does that even mean? Isn't this movie trying to realistically portray the 21st-century middle-class Filipino love story? How did that line end up in the final cut?!

71. Paper Towns (dir. Jake Schreier)

The point of "Paper Towns" is pointlessness, and to judge it by how well it executes that idea is to say that it is a good movie. The manic pixie dream girl is kinda deluded, and the movie kinda repeats itself, and there are some laughs squeezed in between the tedious goings-on, and when it's all over I felt nothing but emptiness. Must have worked, this movie.

72. A Second Chance (dir. Cathy Garcia-Molina)

If a sequel isn't any better than its predecessor, does it have any reason to exist at all? "A Second Chance," just by being its unoriginal self, inadvertently asks that question. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more annoying movie these days than this schlock directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina, she of clumsy hand and overhyped skill. The concept of subtlety--a necessity, if you ask me, in making a truly powerful love story--is apparently lost to her. 

Watching this, you get the impression that Garcia-Molina is someone who admires the largeness of actions. She paints in strokes that are too broad to be ignored, in colors that are too striking, they sting the eyes. She wants emotion, emotion, emotion, and every scene must be an exclamatory sentence of love, betrayal, hurt, pain. This approach can prove too much for some people, but the one time it actually worked was in 2008's surprise charmer "A Very Special Love." Nowadays, as in "A Second Chance," Garcia-Molina's hand is a banner-waving appendage that refuses to stay put, even if just about every person in the world is already aware of its irritating existence.

It's sad that John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo, both incredibly wonderful actors, must settle with a movie that can't even meet their enormous talents halfway. They give every scene their all, even if they have to wrestle with dialogue that is at times exasperatingly incoherent, even if they have to contend with scenes that at times escape the laws of logic, even if they have to dwell in this alternate universe that resembles an episodic mush, where both script and music work hand in hand to overtly signal every single shift in mood and feeling. This is a happy scene, it says. Then, cue somber hymns from orchestra, and viola, we have a sad scene. Oh no, they're breaking up, oh shit, cry, people, cry!

Twice, I've heard the argument that "A Second Chance" isn't for everyone because only people who are married or who are in relationships that have weathered time and the billion fucks it gives can truly appreciate it. And that's a whole load of bullshit. All throughout the two dreary hours in the cinema, I was often reminded of how good Derek Cianfrance's "Blue Valentine" is. What makes Cianfrance's film so powerful is how it presents the emotional turmoil as it is, and lets the viewer decipher the rest of the details and absorb the entirety of the situation without prodding or a self-imposed guidebook. "A Second Chance" doesn't trust its viewers to be smart enough to get the whole picture, so instead it tries with all its might to hammer into our heads what it wants to say, or believes it is trying to say. And you, dear viewer, should be insulted.

73. The Good Dinosaur (dir. Peter Sohn)

"The Good Dinosaur" is "The Lion King" for today's generation of kids, or for kids who are now my age when "The Lion King" first became a sensation. Well, too bad, kids, because nothing can possibly top "The Lion King," meaning this "Dinosaur" has its moments of brilliance, its share of okay moments, and a rather considerable amount of meh effort splattered all over it. I started out hating it, but it eventually won me over.

74. Love (dir. Gaspar Noé)

Mumblecore porn. How lovely.

75. Mad Max: Fury Road (dir. George Miller)

"Mad Max: Fury Road" is a post-apocalyptic chase fever dream engulfed in salt and sand and stony debris. It's a nightmare you don't want to wake up from, and Charlize Theron is the goddess at its center. This is style unlike anything we've seen in at least the past couple of years, and evidently the work of someone who knows his shit. If it gets into the Oscars' Best Picture roster, I will dance by myself in the PGH atrium.

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