WEEKEND LOOKBACK MOVIE REVIEW: THE CALL (NO SPOILERS)

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I’ve always liked suspense movies ever since I was a kid. I liked the feeling of being tortured emotionally by a scene on screen, like someone chasing the antagonist and it made me feel like jumping on my seats rooting for that person to survive the murderer; like in Amityville Horror (the latest with Ryan Reynolds in it) or Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

But as I grew up and watched more and more movies, (especially American movies), the thrill just got bland and it’s most likely faded because as time passes by, you get to know a movie and even worse predict what’s going to happen or even worse, the direction or the execution of the movie is not like in the past.

There are still some films out there (especially American movies… again) that still have this type of thrill that I wanted, but only a few left. One of it was when I watched the movie The Call.

OVERVIEW (Without spoilers)

The movie is about a 911 agent Jordan played by Halle Berry, who seems to be just a normal person trying to take in calls and trying to save someone’s life… you know, just normal (pun intended).

Anyway, she got a call, one day that changed her life.

She braces herself as she tries to rescue this certain person from a murderer that ended in failure. She lived her life in guilt, pain and regret for the next years until one day, history repeated itself with the same murderer.

She has to redeem herself by helping another victim, and a cat and mouse chase with exciting twist and turn happens.

WHY I LOVED THE CALL

First of all, by this movie, I realized how DIFFICULT mentally, emotionally, spiritually and everything is to become a 911 agent. The mere fact that you take in threatened calls in a normal day would be so intense that I don’t think my mind and body can handle. It’s very tough especially when you didn’t give the help of the person on the other line who’s asking for it.

Sometimes, we just hear funny prank calls on YouTube about stupid people calling 911 services, but little did we know how serious it is to have that kind of job.

I have worked in a Call Centre and I don’t think customer service with irate customers (because they want services to work for them), would compare working in a 911 customer service. And this emotion of hardship was shown in the movie, that’s why it’s good.

Second, a talked about the thrill in movies that are only present in few American films nowadays and I love that The Call gave me the excitement that I needed to see.

And lastly, the story is unique. I don’t know if there are other movies out there having the same storyline as this, but The Call is such a unique perspective of a 911 officer with an interesting story of vengeance.

Overall, The Call is thrilling in a sense of need for redemption and uniqueness of storyline in this world whose filmmaking is starting to become rip-offs of other film.

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THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 | MOVIE REVIEW [NO SPOILERS]

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-★★★★

Ever since the dawn of The Hunger Games book series and its rise to fame, I was always a fan but not of the third book which is Mockingjay. Why? To be honest there are a lot of  wrong things happened in the book. The first two were beyond awesome, and we have Mockingjay, about the final part of the rebellion of the districts versus the Capitol, specifically between Katniss and President Snow, but it seems to feel like rushed and unfinished.

Of course in Mockingjay, there are no more games happened because everything stopped when Katniss showed true rebel in Catching Fire.

I have doubts about Mockingjay becoming a hit in movie theaters compared to the first two films which have solid storyline and heart pounding events. And I have more doubt when they decided to split Mockingjay into two films.

Nevertheless, I’m always a fan of the book series so I put my faith in the directors and screenwriters to amp it up into a cinematic experience, and guess what, Mockingjay Part 1 was good!

OVERVIEW

Mockingjay is the continuation of where we left off in Catching Fire a year ago. It’s where Katniss woke up and found out that there’s District 13 being an underground society, Peeta and the rest of the victors captured by the Capitol and of course, the start of the uprising.

District 13, which is spearheaded by President Coin which is played by (who I call) The Possessed Julianne Moore (in a good way) and Plutarch which is played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the rest of the team who helped Katniss survive in the game in order for them to create a propaganda in enticing the people of Panem to rise against the tyranny of those in the Capitol.

They’ll be convincing Katniss to do so and also in order to regain power all over Panem.

MOCKINGJAY PART 1

To be honest, I was expecting additional scenes in the movie due to the lack of intensity in the film. I mean, it needed to happen because the source material only focuses on Katniss’ stupidity in choosing to be the Mockingjay or not.

The film focuses on the propaganda created by District 13 using Katniss for the uprising.

I love the fact that this whole movie is about backstage propaganda and how showbiz it all is even you are in the midst of a war. There will still be the ‘lights, camera, action’, make up, costume and script behind it and also it shows how empowering this is for an entire community or whole country perhaps. Let’s face it; we all love a good advertisement.

Also, the additional scenes that are not in the book are really intense and captivating that it will give you goose-bumps. Although for some times I was kind of bored a bit, but just a few, no worries.

There’s one scene where Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) sings and how it grew into a song of rebellion. It was just perfectly well done!

OVERALL

Overall, the movie is about the emotional turmoil of someone in the war, and how a community of rebels acts to it, as well as how it will lead to a huge war against the Capitol.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay is a rebellious propaganda fashioned with behind-the-scenes showbiz and deliberately intense and emotional rollercoaster ride towards an inevitable war.

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BIG HERO 6 MOVIE REVIEW [NO SPOILERS]

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-★★ 1/2

It’s been a year since one of the most successful animated movies of all time, Frozen, which not just created a huge fanbase all around the world, but also invaded the music scene, but to sum it all up; it devours pop culture. And now Disney-Pixar is spending some dime for another action packed animated movie which is Big Hero 6.

 

OVERVIEW

Big Hero 6 is a story of a kid named Hiro who dreams to become one of the best robotics engineers. Together with his brother, Tadashi, who introduces him to his lab in the university, as well as with his circle of ‘nerd’ friends. Hiro’s brother not only just inspires him but also helps him with his dreams in enrolling in the university.

Hiro created a super intelligent microbots that can act upon telepathy that wowed audiences gaining him entrance to the university but this did not end well due to the demise of his brother after trying to rescue the professor in a burning building.

Hiro then became depressed and only to find out that the healthcare robot named Baymax is in their room. Series of funny events happened as well as finding out a villain in their midst using his microbot technology.

He then realized that he needed to take back the microbot with the help of his friends that have technological stuff to battle out the villain, only to discover many things that will push Hiro to the bad side as well as realizing so many things about Baymax and his brother.

 

BIG HERO 6

After the success of Frozen, to be honest, this kind of fall short. If we see this film as it is, it’s also the type of film that’s quite funny, somehow genius and very cute.

The film starts of really cool with all the technological and robotic stuffs happening, I could imagine that it would surely captivate eight to ten year old boys. Then the story continues with the cuteness of Baymax that I find really funny. But the fun cuts off somehow in between the film for a more serious note. The ingenuity of the main character to create cool costumes and weapons made the film really sophisticated in a childish way.

Now what I also loved about this film is it is accidentally educational. Baymax is a healthcare partner designed to help those in medical need and people of all ages will really learn a lot from it and I was really impressed by that.

 

OVERALL

To be honest, this film is mediocre compared to all Disney-Pixar films. It fell short even when it’s been advertised as ‘from the creators of Frozen and Wreck-It-Ralph’ which are both successful films, Big Hero 6 is a cute adventure film, sometimes funny but not that compelling to penetrate pop culture. This is a type of film that is just a passerby, and Disney could’ve done better.

To sum it all up, this film is strictly for kids to totally enjoy but not for adults. And to think, the creators made the films Frozen and Wreck-It-Ralph a film for all ages.

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INTERSTELLAR MOVIE REVIEW [NO SPOILERS]

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- ★★★ 1/2

After the huge success of The Dark Knight trilogy, I think it’s about time for Christopher Nolan to be back in creating spectacular movies with interesting, almost true-to-life stories that will surely captivate movie goers.

And of course, like any other movies Nolan directed like Inception, which almost blew my mind deciphering stuffs but in a good way, and The Prestige which is simply my favorite movie of all time and many others that have themes of scientific theories with it and then added some spicy storylines that are bombastic not just in the blockbuster but also in award giving bodies; Interstellar is one hell of a ride.

OVERVIEW

Interstellar is a space travel adventure, sci-fi, action-thriller and a mind boggle that focuses on the theory of wormholes, black holes and a lot of intergalactic stuff added with some captivating story and fascinating visual effects that will get your brains working.

The story focuses on Cooper which is played by Academy Award Winner, Matthew McConaughey; a former test pilot engineer, who has a family struggling in their everyday life from living here on Earth that will soon to die.

Yes, folks, it’s a dystopian kind of film.

Anyhow, Cooper soon discovers a code from her daughter’s room filled with ‘ghosts’ which they then discovered that it was a coordinate to an underground NASA. Then the story goes with more drama and complications in it, as Cooper travels space looking for another Earth for humans to habituate, together with Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), Romilly (David Gyasi) and Doyle (Wes Bently).

They pass through series of inconvenient, scientific problems that, to tell you honestly, if you don’t listen carefully, you’d miss one single bit of a good plot.

Then until it reaches to a point where betrayal, survival, and sacrifice have to be done in order for the movie to end very, very well.

INTERSTELLAR

The good points about watching a Christopher Nolan movie is that first, by the end of the film there’s a feeling that you are intelligent (*wink), because of the fact that Interstellar (and other Nolan films) are strictly hard to decipher especially when revelations are mostly verbalized rather than, in most movies the flashbacks are necessary. It’s either a character nonchalantly utters the revelation and/or if flashbacks are necessary; it’s given as a glimpse (e.g. in The Dark Knight Rises which Talia al’Gul reveals she’s the child in the pit). It’s crazy to think that only Nolan would risk a hugely budgeted film for a climax or dénouement to be hardly explained, but that’s what makes it more interesting.

Second good thing is that the storytelling is again a Christopher Nolan mark and it’s very amusing because we all know that a Nolan movie (except for The Dark Knight Trilogy) comprises not just with interesting storylines with no basis at all; of course, it’s not a Nolan movie without any scientific theories attached to it. And that what makes Interstellar effective and awesome… I mean literally your mouth drops.

Third good thing is there are twists of course, and it’s all in the twist where a Nolan movie becomes great. But this time, the twist which I expected to happen is quite predictable even in the onset of scene where you would know that it would become part of the big reveal at the end. And with that comes questions that if I already predicted what the twist is, how would they be able to execute the revelation then? Will it be good? For me, I think Christopher Nolan knows that the twist is already predictable and I am happy to say that the sequence to the revelation of the movie is a bravo.

Finally are the sub plots which are crispy and exciting.

COMPARISON TO OTHER NOLAN MOVIES

It’s hard not to compare to Nolan’s other works like Inception and The Prestige, because I myself became a fan of his.

To be honest, if we compare Interstellar from the mentioned films; it’s a bit off. Standalone, Interstellar is a good film; cringe-worthy, exciting, thought-provoking and deliberate, but if there’s a point of comparison in those three films, well, it’s a shame but Interstellar may be the least good of three, and The Dark Knight isn’t part of it yet.

OVERALL

All I can say is that you have to focus and lend not just your ears but all your attention to the film because once you miss a part you will have confusion in the next few scenes.

But I have to say that Interstellar is a captivating space adventure, probably the best one, depicting a scientific intergalactic possibility plus cringe-worthy plot and a good twist that will be hard to beat when it comes to an intergalactic sci-fi genre.

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WEEKEND LOOKBACK MOVIE REVIEW: THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY

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- ★★★★★

I was always a movie goer but not as much as my partner who have seen all of those award winning, Oscar worthy, famous and not so famous movies. He’s influenced me in watching all those since I only bet the ones who are on the top charts in the Box Office.

When he came into my life, I get to watch most of these films which are more in the drama genre than I usually watch in cinemas or buy DVDs, I never complained with the long yet invigorating storylines of these movies because they’re full of compelling revelations or a touching bonanza or a heart crushing dénouement.

Anyhow, I task my partner to look for movies that have good reviews or 7.0 to 10 ratings in IMDB and I will be the one to look for the movie for us to see, and one of it was the movie The Talented Mr. Ripley.

 

OVERVIEW (NO SPOILER)

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a psychological-thriller American novel adapted into a 1999 movie which stars Matt Damon as Tom Ripley, Jude Law as Dickie, Gwyneth Paltrow as Marge and Cate Blanchett as Meredith.

It revolves around the story of Tom Ripley and his so called ‘talent’ in deceiving people in lying , forgery and imitation.

He was once a nobody when the father of Dickie Greenleaf asked Tom for a favor since he was convinced that Tom and his son were friends in college which is totally not true. He sent Tom in Italy to convince Dickie to come back to the US in exchange of $1,000.

On his way, Tom met this lady named Marge, an heiress.

When he arrived in Italy, by chance, he met Dickie in a beach and become friends with him. He was also introduced to Dickie’s girlfriend Marge and got along just fine except when they bonded a little longer, Dickie felt Tom was becoming like a leech that couldn’t live without him and there he tried to stay away only ending up Tom killing him.

He tried to hide the body away (you have to discover how) and all along, in that mistake of his came an opportunity to deceive even more.

That’s where Tom used Dickie’s identity and lived like him until Marge grew suspicious of him and tries to reveal his true intentions especially to Dickie’s father.

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photo: Paramount Pictures

 

WHY I LOVED THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY

This is the only psychological-thriller I saw that the main character is the villain, but to be honest, it’s not the first for sure BUT the thing about this movie that I loved the most is that even when Matt Damon’s character Tom is deceitful, liar and a murderer; there’s a feeling in the entire cat and mouse chase in the film that you would root for this villain not to get caught from his ill doings.

There’s this want inside of you that you want Tom to be saved even when he’s the bad guy, and that’s a commendable thing to ponder since we all know, even with other films or soap operas, we most of the times root for the villain not to win (if the protagonist is not as dumb as hell that we want them to die instead).

Also, the thrill the movie gave me was awesome. Again it’s in the cat and mouse chase where all of the excitement gets you.

Actually, I did not spoil so much on the OVERVIEW because it will be less exciting to know the plot; all I wrote was an overview. Also, the ending is bitter-sweet and is just perfect which I also did not include in the overview. You have to see it for yourself.

The Talented Mr. Ripley is an awesome film repertoire of a villain protagonist themed film that will surely enthrall you from start to end.

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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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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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