WEEKEND LOOKBACK MOVIE REVIEW: EKSTRA (THE BIT PLAYER)

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- ★★★★★

Filipino Indie films are nonchalantly popping out of the silver screens with or without our notice, but some of it are rather ignored and not praised unless the rights has been bought and distributed by Star Cinema and/or Viva Films.

There are a few Pinoy indie films that I’ve watched and still discovering for some more, especially with dramatic themed films, which really are hard to find due to the demand of sexually themed movies, which to be fair some have really good stories and most of it are, how can I say, lack of financial support and technical movie making skills? Most of it is shown in local cinemas that are honestly filthy and it’s one of the sources of quick pleasure and AIDS as well.

Anyhow, I’ve watched a trailer in ABS-CBN about Vilma Santos going back on the silver screen, only going indie, and it somehow got my attention because, Vilma Santos IS Vilma Santos, watching her movies could never go wrong.

But seeing her as an indie artist is quite bizarre and exciting at the same time, that is why, when it came out I did definitely watched it, and it did not fail me.

 

OVERVIEW

Ekstra is a movie of a mother and a dreamer as well, working in the film industry as an extra or bit player (Ekstra in Filipino Language) trying very hard for her to get a role that the camera will see. She needs to endure the exhausting and unstable job of being part of a film or T.V. series: from waking up early in the morning, trying her best just to get even a background role, doing her own make up and as well as mastering some lines when she did land one of the extra roles with definite lines to say in front of the camera, until it all gets bad in the end.

 

WHY I LOVED EKSTRA

This film is not about happy endings, and that’s first and foremost a sadistic reason why I loved this film. It deals with a reality that when shit happens, shit really happens, and makes you question your own luck as well.

It dwelt the emotions of fun, tiring, unsure and regret as being part of the process in creating a movie or TV show as per this movie.

I definitely loved the humor on this film based on chances out from reality, like in the scene where a main character in the film is absent due to some attitude issues and Santos’ character was chosen to portray as that main character but of course the production needed to take her face away so what they did was to put a sack on her head to cover her up, and the editing will take care of the rest of it.

That part was really hilarious.

And although I never worked in the film industry, I feel that the movie really portrays on what is actually happening behind the scenes in Philippine film industry. The scourging heat that the extras experience, the prima-donna stars acting like royalties, the uncertain job which surely they won’t be part on the next episode, the low pay, the willingness of these people to do whatever it takes just to have a script to say and hopeful to become one of the stars.

The ending, as I’ve said, is not happy. It’s really bitter-sweet. I loved the way it really pulled my heart-strings. The ending is so simple yet so sad because it deals with an ill-fated circumstance that you will regret especially when seeing it yourself over and over again, and what’s more heartbreaking about the ending was that Santos’ character already announced to her family that she’s landed a ‘big’ role only to find out that it’s not the case.

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Vilma Santos again never failed me with this. I remember the final shot where the camera focuses on her face as she regrets while watching the episode she’s in that’s on their TV, and she was just so effective portraying that sad emotion that transported beyond the silver screen and to me.

Ekstra is a film about misfortunes in life whether it’s by lack of talent or worse, by chance and dwelling on emotions of loss, despair and hopelessness for a dream that’s been built brick by brick on marshland, and dreaming a big break while chasing the lime light that’s pointed in a different direction.

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ONLINE PLAGIARISM: UNETHICALLY GRABBING OUR BLOG’S PHOTOS AND PUTTING THEIR OWN WATERMARK ON IT

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I PRY! The photo above was used by one blog and put their watermark on it!!!!!!!

I hope some blogs are well mannered enough to source our blog in using our blog’s photos albeit they don’t have watermarks on it since I believe putting watermarks are ugly as hell. But I believe in being courteous. I think that blogging is about expression, and expression is about acquiring necessary sources to create a meaningful and narrative experience to readers. But with this comes the responsibility of being gracious to elements used especially when it’s NOT theirs. Is it because their website/blog is old and ours is new or theirs are famous and ours is not yet, that they think they have the right to grab all of the novice blogs’ photos without our permission? Without even sourcing us? I believe a “source:  ” is enough; actually, blogs can use our photos without sourcing us, I won’t pry THIS MUCH, BUT putting their OWN watermark (with logo and all) on my photo is a mark of a plethoric self-indulgence and moral decay. Their rebuttal will always be ‘because it is public’, but this act of online plagiarism only goes to show how unethical the people/person working in that certain website/blog is and how people should feel in disdain for someone like this. This blogging community should not be a community of squalor, sordid and uncivilized individuals, instead I aim to call upon those who do blogging to BE ETHICAL.

I should be investigating in this website/blog if they still used some of my photos and I will surely call upon their attention for strike two.

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WEEKEND LOOKBACK MOVIE REVIEW: THE PRESTIGE

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- ★★★★★

Once you get to ask me what my favorite movie of all time is, there’s only one in my mind and that’s The Prestige and it is directed by non-other than The Dark Knight trilogy director, Christopher Nolan.

 

FILM OVERVIEW

To give you an overview; The Prestige follows two friends played by Wolverine, Hugh Jackman and Batman himself, Christian Bale who have the same line of passion which is to become a grand magician and in the long run became arch enemies and business rivals because of certain reasons and one of it is Scarlet Johansson (I can’t blame both).

The rivalry ascends to a higher form of lies and betrayal, because both of them know that there could only be one. It came to a point where a grand magical act has to be performed accurately to wow audiences and gain tons of cash as well. Hugh Jackman’s character needs to find a way on how to do this, while Bale’s character digs his way to stop and shame him to take the throne.

This is where Nikola Tesla’s character comes in, yup, you read it right. Nikola Tesla’s greatest technological invention which is the discovery of electricity is a huge deal in the movie because it served as the solution to Jackman’s greatest magical act.

Anyhow, the story wraps up in Jackman’s biggest performance of his life which is also turns out to be a compromise, as well as the standing-ovation-worthy twist at the end.

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WHY DO I LOVE THE PRESTIGE?

Now, why do I love The Prestige? One, it is because of the compelling story-telling. Christopher Nolan is the winner in this because of the immensely captivating story of two magicians who were friends from the start but became the greatest enemies all because of fame-lust, having a bitter-sweet ending for one of the characters.

The jumping from present to past scenes and the ultimate revelation in the end is a really enthralling type of storytelling that needs focus, but then, you don’t need to because you’re going to be fixated on the screen for the entire two and a half hours of the movie, and that’s how immersive the film is.

The casting is good because all of them already are veteran, except for Scarlet Johannsson which at that time when the film was released, she hasn’t yet garnered that much attention (compared after Iron Man 2), but you can then see potential of a great actor from her, and that’s really commendable.

The musicality is also perfect for each of the scenes.

What I also love about the film is that it also tackles the moral part of being human: about lusting for fame and how far will someone go to acquire this. Would that someone take down the best friend of his before? Well, yes for this film. Will that someone cheat just to learn the tricks his rival had on becoming successful? Yes for this film.

In short and to relate in real life as well; The Prestige is a dark themed film figuratively depicting business rivalry and their necessary evil doings just to be on top of the other which results into a tragedy for both.

Also, I love the fact that in the end you’ll question the morality of both main characters, which for sure you’ll be rooting for one and will then ask ‘Who’s the hero and who’s the villain?’

But later you’ll realize that it’s not the right question to ask, instead you will pose, ‘Is the winner the winner? Or is the winner just the lesser evil?’ and that’s the thought provoking wonder you’ll have to ponder by the start of the film credits.

Anyhow, you will feel agitated, confused, happy, bewildered, amazed and just be affected right after watching The Prestige because it is one hell of a film that gives you a fact wherein magic composes bags of dark secret, treachery, lies, immorality and betrayal.

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DRACULA UNTOLD MOVIE REVIEW [NO SPOILERS]

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- ★★★

Always wanted another vampire movie that doesn’t include cheesy lines, stupid love story and/or sparkling vampires? Tired of the current style of normal girl plus vampire man or vampire to vampire fetish? Wanted another movie that stars Bill Nighy or anyone that looks like him, as the first or the most powerful vampire? Dracula Untold is the story we’ve all been waiting for, for about a year.

To give you an overview: The movie Dracula Untold is the story of Vlad the Impaler and his warior-ish past and his path towards being the first ever vampire in ‘KNOWN’ history, and not according to the movie itself which described that Vlad isn’t quite the very first vampire himself rather, he’s the one who created some sort of an army of it instead. (Don’t worry, that information won’t spoil anything, because it’s as if you won’t know what’s going to happen next… *laughs)

 

Anyhow, the path towards being a vampire was not a normal choice; instead it was a moral choice for Vlad to save not just his family but also his entire community in Transylvania. He needs to deal with a lot of changes in his life to become the greatest hero in the film.

 

Now, first and foremost, I have to say that I really liked the film. It is full of excitement and tension that gives you total entertainment, not just for you but also to young people who fancies historical-action film.

 

But don’t get me wrong about the historical word I wrote, because only Vlad’s name and Transylvania were the only ones we can call historically significant in the film. But for the rest, it’s just pure fiction.

 

Anyway, the action is good plus the musicality of it that amped up the tension which gives breathtaking action scenes. Bravo to that.

 

The only problem with this film is that the story is really elementary, what I mean to say is that once you get to watch A LOT of films, this type of storyline is quite simple and uncomplicated. It’s straightforward, and as what I’ve written a while ago, you will definitely know what’s going to happen next, especially when kids see their fathers turn into a monster and he’s not even freaked out (*really???).

 

To be honest, because of its simple plot there really are some situations when you can really question the content of the film because of its absurdity, and I’d give you an example, in the last part where he went face to face with his ultimate enemy; we, of course know Vlad would kill him but do we really need that theatrics in finishing off the villain? I mean, it’s really difficult when you put too much power on a character because he seems to be unbeatable already and with the finale of the film, I do believe they could’ve given a more complex ending to that.

 

Anyway, all these realization came up a day after I’ve watched it, but still my mind hasn’t changed about the effect on me which I find the movie really good. It’s like the one we watch that the story doesn’t make sense but you still loved it (hello there, Lucy and Now You See Me), because truth is it really is even if it’s not Oscar worthy, but that’s what entertainment is all about. And I do really love to see more from Dracula Untold which I guess and hoping will have part two.

 

Dracula Untold is an enthralling piece that you would love and enjoy in every bit.

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WEEKEND LOOKBACK MOVIE REVIEW: METRO MANILA

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- ★★★★★

A QUICK RANT

I find it really strange when people in our country don’t have the urge to watch high end films with ecstatic storyline that not only captivates a certain award giving body but also to many foreigners who have seen these kinds of great movies.

Although for a fact that what I will be reviewing is not a Filipino production, to be specific British, it also kills me to ponder that whenever I read the movie title METRO MANILA; I can’t stop wondering: how is this not famous in the Philippines when the title itself is the most famous word in the country? I mean, aren’t the people raptured by the thought that a foreign production did a high end movie here in the land where we live?

It quite frustrates me that the industry is stuck up with same-old storylines, and I can’t blame Star Cinema nor VIVA Films and other not famous production labels because the people itself is highly hopeless romantic for more of these kind of films where rich guy-poor girl meets and marries in the end, or worst the unending stories about when a third party enters the scene to create chaotic living for everyone else around including the one’s behind the television.

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I’ve read about this film when a foreign blogger whom I follow on WordPress posted about his favorite films. He talked about British production METRO MANILA film that depicts certain level of poverty in the Philippines and also a great crime that circulated within the story.

My partner and I really thought that this was a local production, but no. It was a no-brainer, and we watched the film the next day.

After watching the film: I am in disbelief of how great the film was. To the exaggerating feels, the film really did depict the Filipino life: it is heart-breaking, pitiful and apparently difficult. You would really sense on how unsophisticated living in a larger part of Metro Manila is, and how poverty is overwhelming within each corners of the self-owned lands.

It really breaks your heart seeing how filthy people have become in order to get cash, and in hard times: to get a piece of bread and a soda to pair it with just to get through the day.

The unbearable slums in Metro Manila are well portrayed by the magnificent cinematography. From the beginning of the film which happens to be in the mountainous part of Luzon (Philippines), up to the climax and dénouement: scenic shots are crucial in depicting such simplicity of rural life or the complexity of the city life.

Metro Manila’s story is quite compelling and bold. It surrounds the heroic hypocrisy of corrupt people especially if they have sinister motives. Also, it also portrays a difficult choice of morality; on what is right and wrong to the eyes of the people who know you versus the eyes of the people you love. And I won’t forget the basis of the story of how a sane person have his world turn upside down and will be left with limited options ending in a gruesome choice.

I didn’t just like the story itself, but also the twist in the end that truly, truly did break my heart. But I won’t spoil.

Anyhow, what I love about this film is that, (also in general); foreign film makers really do set a high standard it is because they are not afraid to push beyond the limits of filmmaking. They have to break barriers in order to create a great story. They are not afraid to show the people how ‘evil’ is evil so that storytelling will not be compensated. In short, the film really has no halls barred when it comes to showing the lowest and the highest points of a real setting and a possible scenario in this grueling part of the world.

This masterpiece offers a compelling, thrilling and heart-warming story of a life of a Filipino family who’s finding their luck in the city.

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GONE GIRL MOVIE REVIEW [NO SPOILERS!]

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-★★★★ 1/2

Horrified about the fact that there are numerous psychopaths all around you? Thinking that one day, theatrically, you will find yourself locked up in an abandoned garage or being chased down the strange alleyway that curiously no one’s ever walking. Or perhaps, you might believe that your partner has a psychopathic behavior shown after three years of marriage because three months is the phase where you both easily harass each other in bed neglecting the fact that it’s abusive?

Well, then if want these kind of scenarios; Gone Girl is perfect for you.

After watching the movie, I have to say that it’s very, very intelligent. I’m really happy watching this two and a half hour movie because it did not bore me for a bit.

I will try to give a review that will be spoiler free so that you can enjoy reading this with pleasure of not knowing the entire plot or revealing its twist and having an overview of the feeling after you’ve watched this amazing film.

The movie starts off with a twisted line coming from Ben Affleck’s character who nonchalantly gives this chilling thought of murder. And it all follows a certain storyline that will captivate you every single tick of the time there is in the movie.

I love how AMAZING the storytelling of the film is because it really gets your attention; and what I mean to say is that, there are other thriller themed films that have this kind of genre but the winner is always in the execution a great storyteller.

The juxtaposition of the scenes will give you an eerie feeling and deliberately, in your head, you will do a process of elimination on who’s really the suspect and who’s the victim. The storytelling is so perfect; I believe it almost tied up with the Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige, which is my favorite movie of all time by the way, that has the style of jumping from the present scene and the past and will eventually reveal the true nature of characters. And the difference between the two films is the actual timeframe of the revelation. And I can’t delve much into that because it’s too spoiler-y.

Anyway, I also love the mixture of a Dark Comedy that is lingering in between shots because it somehow creates a true horror in the midst of an already eerie story.

Ben Affleck’s performance was awesome in this film, and for his co-star Rosamund Pike who plays Ben’s wife: I do agree with the articles I’ve read and the commentaries I’ve heard that she deserves an Oscar nomination for this because of her beyond excellent, chilling performance in Gone Girl. The amazing and believable acting in this film is crucial to make it work and the casting is just flawless for this one.

Also, there is nudity in the film which suggests how they got the R-16 rating and not just that but also blood splattering and domestic violence scenes are also present.

Anyhow, Gone Girl is definitely a must see in this year’s list of exaggerated great movies that will keep you focused in the cinema screen from start to end. A definite 4 and a half stars over 5/

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ANNABELLE MOVIE REVIEW

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-  ★★★ 1/2

The horror scene is just going on and on, and most of it is becoming a franchise or a spin-off from a famous blockbuster hit.

After the success of the movie The Conjuring directed by James Wan, creator of the Insidious series: there came Annabelle. Of course, we all remember Annabelle from The Conjuring movie; the creepy doll who is possessed by some kind of none-of-this-world element that terrorized the film viewers especially me.

But we all know that in that movie, the doll was not the focus of the story, instead it became one of the elements that after the movie became a success, and they created a spin-off slash prequel movie in the same name.

Annabelle is a story set before the Conjuring happened, and a year before the introductory scene in the Conjuring movie happened. I’m talking about the two nurses who were given the Annabelle doll as a gift of course.

And although I was so excited about this spin-off, and after watching it: it didn’t sort of hit the mark for me.

The tone of the movie did not really move away from the Conjuring which is nice, because they’ve kept the entire creepiness with it that really is the mark of the James Wan style. The fright was still there and the movie build-up was a little bit too much for me, bringing me a little bit bored for just a bit or so, but then again, the creepy feeling will bite you back in a matter of instance, which is good.

Although the build-up towards the end of the movie was almost there, the climax in addition with the dénouement part was a bit off for me, and I think it’s such a waste after that very, very long lead-in towards the climactic scene.

After the film, my partner and I couldn’t help but compare the James Wan style of directing plus creating an entire film in comparison to John Leonetti that directed Annabelle.

The film direction. In any of the James Wan horror movies, it always has a long scene climax that really is dreading in a good way since it will fright you no matter what. And of course, James Wan captivates our emotions starting from the build-up up to the very end making us attached to the characters themselves.

With Annabelle and Leonetti’s style, there was this creepiness but not much as with Wan’s style. Might it be because they held back since it’s just a spin-off? Well, that’s a dumb reason to start with. Annabelle is the most highlighted character in The Conjuring movie and I wished they have pushed the boundaries more with the film, rather than sticking to the typical storyline of the flopped American horror movies out there.

Anyhow, even when there’s a lack in the movie, but trust me, it still gives you screams and fright as well.

In addition to all of the creepiness, I think this film gave the most iconic frightening scene of all horror movies I’ve ever seen, and I’m talking about the elevator scene which almost made me piss my pants. It’s really scary and exciting: all the emotions of the first part up to that moment was polarized on that very scene.

Bravo to that.

Anyway, Annabelle is STILL worth the watch. I’m a huge fan of this entirely new franchise, and I believe this is no way of stopping anytime sooner.

What do you think about the movie?

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