I’ve been terribly busy for the past couple of weeks and so this post was just left in gestation for a long time. So without any further delay, here’s my late (but not stale) presentation of the film reviews I made for the whole month of April.
1. GHOST IN THE SHELL (2017)
White-washing controversies aside, I want to be blunt and say I totally enjoyed this film. That is why I am absolutely surprised by the ratings it has been getting, which are lower than what I think it deserves.
I have seen the original twice, before watching this film as well as after seeing it for comparison. Yes, nothing beats the original, as what purists would predictably say. But this film, with its stunning visuals and a few solid tweaking in the storyline, stands on its own.
There’s so much more to appreciate in this film than what the negative reviews make out of it. I personally think the concept and design of the highly modern world in the movie is spectacular (3D hologram effects and all).
The choreography of fight scenes is perfect. I love love love the first 5 minutes of it — its first action sequence with the robotic geisha gone rogue. THAT was super cool.
There are, however, some things to harp on such as Johansson’s too angsty-stiff portrayal of Major (take it from a die-hard Scarjo fan) as well as the absurd and unnecessary part where the Japanese-speaking Section 9 Chief Aramaki doesn’t get any Nihongo responses from the other characters. Well, at least, the character Aramaki is a hundred times likable in this film. Thanks to the portrayal of the amazing Japanese actor/director Takeshi Kitano, chief Aramaki is more of a father-figure to the Major rather than a cold and restrained boss in the anime version. I’ve actually let out some muted yaaaaaaasssssssss!!! during scenes where he’s a total bad ass.
Danish actor Pilou Asbæk was a very good Batou. The portrayal of his relationship towards Major was super spot on. I was grinning from ear to ear. (Fun fact: he was also in the ScarJo movie Lucy!) Juliette Binoche as Dr. Ouelet was incredible, as per usual. Peter Ferdinando as Hanka CEO Cutter and resident bad guy was very impressive in his own sinister take on the character. And good lord, Michael Pitt. All I can say is, RISE KING! I love you and all of your movies and I hope you make more and more movies. Lol I’m embarrassing.
This movie may not fall in the greatest sci-fi movies of all time, but this is certainly a lot more entertaining and satisfying than some of the “higher-rated” movies I’ve seen.
2. IT (1990)
My neighbors, who are aged 10 and 6, love to hang in my room and watch movies with me. And since I’m usually into weird or old-timey movies, I figured to have horror films instead when they’re around.
Everything’s peachy so far. They are getting more and more captivated by the genre. Some of the titles they’ve seen: Pan’s Labyrinth, El Orfanato, The Witch, Lights Out, Mama, Sinister, Conjuring and Goosebumps the movie.
As soon as the teasers for the new version of IT hit the internet, my little friends kept giving me spirited updates about the trailers. And so one afternoon when I was able to get off from work, we decided to watch the 1990 original.
Cheesy 90s-acting (on some of the adults’ performances) as well as some misogynistic undertones aside (what the hell is happening to the Beverly Marsh character? Even the kids are asking me why she has to be so touchy with all the boys LOL), it’s an old horror movie that’s worth visiting.
With all these recent horror movies that heavily rely on jump scare, Stephen King’s IT relies on its chilling and unnerving atmosphere, as well as its super spooky storyline (but of course!). That’s why it is so endearing for me because it’s reminiscent of the good ol’ Filipino horror films I loved when I was a kid. Tim Curry as Pennywise is nightmare-inducing. I thought my adult mind would be like ok scary clown, but hell no, THAT MOFO WAS NASTY I was scared shit and screaming witha kids lol.
I have a soft spot for stories with a group of kids and so the first half is my favorite. The second half unfortunately didn’t have the same energy as the first. The ending I think was ridiculous, but still, with the imminent remake, it’s always nice to revisit the past. If you’re an adult reading this, I think this movie is best enjoyed with kids in your audience hihihi.
3. SPLIT (2016)
Sigh. I cannot be mild. This movie was just plain horrible, disappointing and a total waste of time. It’s not even the funny kind. It is the kind where at the end of it all, you’ll be caught in an overwhelming wave of regret for the time lost. (Oh, was I repeating myself?)
I love James McAvoy and I was super excited to see Anya Taylor-Joy after seeing her in The Witch (2015), but good god. The contradiction between McAvoy’s cringey acting and Taylor-Joy’s dull and monotonous part is the only thing that’s horrifying in this movie.
Ending was atrocious and leaves a bad taste in the mouth. And most distasteful is the unmissable exploitation of the teen actors having them act half-naked almost the whole duration of the film.
I think I’m really done with giving this director the benefit of the doubt. Well, at least for now. If you feel like watching a split personality-themed movie, do yourself a favor and watch Identity (2003) or Fight Club (1999) instead.
4. LES DEMOISELLES DE ROCHEFORT (THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT) (1967)
This post is inundated with film stills because, as you can tell, I’ve fallen in love with this movie. And if you give this a chance, I think you will do too.
I found this film by pure chance while surfing the internet and so I had no idea it was going to be a musical. if you loved La La Land, then you will be surprised by how this movie will remind you of it. The first song and dance sequence of the two films, for example, very much echo each other. Also very clear is that both films are made as homage to Hollywood optimism and its dreamers.
It’s crazy how visually stunning and captivating this french film is. That’s why I posted too many pictures above as example in case you need more convincing. Watching it is like stepping inside a sherbet factory, every shot is just very tasteful. Very entertaining too is its dialogue, with interesting side stories delivered orally by characters. It’s whimsical, fun, romantic and very engaging. It’s a very good example of escapism, the exact reason why people watch movies in the first place. I can’t wait to see more of director Jacques Demy’s work!
(Fun Fact: Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac, who play twins in the film, were real-life sisters ( but not twins). See more fun facts here.)
5. GEORGY GIRL (1966)
No one is really likable in this story. The lead character is a ludicrous woman-child who has this penchant for sticking with horrible people. One redeeming quality though is her devotion to a baby rejected by its own mother.
The male love interest is an asshole and her female flatmate an insufferable cold-hearted mean bitch. Harsh much? Watch the movie. Calling her a bitch is actually already polite.
There’s also the father character who pimps his daughter to his old rich employer, who in turn pursues Georgy relentlessly and is able to convince the poor girl to be his mistress through his own scheming ways.
No character is really worth rooting for but because of the zesty performances of its actors, i was left intrigued to know the ending. Holy Mary Mother of God, Charlotte Rampling is so beautiful. I am so obsessed with her face!
Anyhoo, if you take this story as just a presentation of how it’s like during the 1960s swinging London, the baby-boomers and the common mores at that time, then this is a fair commentary to that.
6. THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (2017)
This is my first time to watch a Fast and Furious film and I had absolute crazy fun watching it in the cinema with the parents. They are HUGE fans of this movie franchise, especially my dad. So watching the movie with them means hearing over-the-top reactions and side comments to explosions, action sequences and women in skimpy clothes lol.
Funny parents aside, what made me totally warm up to this movie is that it has an impressive solid plot for an action flick that’s already on its 8th installment.
The cast chemistry was a delight. The characters were super likable and funny and an absolute hoot. Tyrese Gibson was hilarious and his “Number 11” lines would make my theater roar with laughter. And good lorrrdd, can somebody give Jason Statham his own spin-off movie for his character in Spy (2015)? This man is THE KING OF COMEDIC TIMING! My life will have the sunshine it has been missing before if that happens. Thank you.
Dom’s motivation for going rogue was shaped real well. Charlize Theron’s high-tech evil ice queen really seeps through your bones. The emotional pay-off at the end was sweet and enough, and although (***spoiler alert do not read any further wow you’re still here fault’s on you) Theron’s character escapes, at least that secures her spot in the next series. I’m definitely not complaining. ?
7. THE NIGHT PORTER (1974)
I find it so tricky to justify my love for certain arthouse films since most of them have really controversial and disconcerting premises to begin with.
Take this film as an example. An exploration of love, obsession, madness, and all the greys in between, this film tells the dark and twisted love affair, of which started during the Nazi regime —- she, a young and emaciated captive and he, a cold-blooded concentration camp officer. Talk about We Found Love In A Hopeless Place by Rihanna realness.
The idea of it is no doubt revolting, sickening and could highly ruffle the feathers of many. And that’s exactly why I’m so impressed by how director Liliana Cavani turned something horrific into something weirdly beautiful and moving. The narrative is so nuanced and textured that I couldn’t help but sympathize with this doomed love. With the flashbacks inserted so seamlessly, the film never loses its mystery as well as the intrigue that’s looming in every scene.
Charlotte Rampling and Dirk Bogarde’s performances are heavy with inspiring gravitas. Both are equally mesmerizing. It’s not always that I get interested with male actors but Bogarde made me want to see more of his work.
There are also supporting characters you really need to see just because of their stunning performances. Amedeo Amodio’s ballet scene is mystifying. The Countess Stein, regal and one of the most interesting femme fatales on films.
Alfio Contini’s cinematography is gorgeous. There was an abundance of beautiful shots, all with an air of quiet despair. Sigh….please excuse me for sounding like I breathe ahhhhrt but that’s what i felt watching it.
The color palette, mostly consisting of absinthe greens, muted blues, deep blood reds and stark cold whites, go very well with the chilling and disturbing circumstance of the story.
Script is exceptional. An example: Upon being told that their love affair is a romantic story, Bogarde’s Max counters the Countess Stein, “No, it’s not a romantic story….It’s a biblical story.” Dead.
I think this is sublime and it’s one of the most touching, most emotionally moving tragic love story I’ve ever seen. Well, I mean, it could rank 2nd after my all-time favorite love story: Komugi x Meruem from HxH. Omg don’t judge.
I really loved this film, I’m obsessed with it and it’s now one of my favorites.
8. KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE (1989)
It’s a beautiful, sweet and very heart-warming tale about a 13 year-old witch trying to navigate her way through life after breaking free from her parents’ care (as per the witches’ tradition.)
We see her struggle and work hard in order to support herself as well as her trusty sidekick Jiji, a cute black talking cat. This element of the story is my favorite and inadvertently struck a chord with me. Kiki being so headstrong and resilient endears her all the more to me. That scene where she had to deliver something despite the rain? Girrrrl. ?
I am slowly building my Studio Ghibli top favorites and this now goes straight to second place, with Howl’s Moving Castle at number one (just because I have an eternal lust for Howl). Eww.
9. DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID (2015)
I first saw the 1946 version directed by the film titan Jean Renoir and starring the luscious Paulette Goddard and I remember really enjoying that film and got me even more entwined with old films. I also remember getting extremely mushy and dewy-eyed during that garden scene between Goddard’s Célestine and the amazing Hurd Hatfield (whom I found so irresistible and had that Ben Whishaw charm, if you know what I mean). That scene was sooo romantic to me, it got to the point where I was absolutely embarrassing myself to me.
With that said, this 3rd movie adaptation from the 1900 anti-bourgeois French novel written by Octave Mirbeau, had a different tone and atmosphere — more somber and much darker, when compared to the original.
While Goddard’s heroine is sing-songy and playfully sassy, the always alluring Léa Seydoux’s Célestine is sullen, exhausted, scheming and full of shaded indignation. With such unpleasant-sounding characteristics, Seydoux has effectively played her with such nuance that you’ll feel sorry for her and just root for this poor girl.
Though I prefer the lightness of the original film, this version is still worth a watch especially for Léa Seydoux stans (which includes me btw). It’s an engaging period drama with solid performances from the cast as well as beautiful shots of the English countryside.
I am yet to watch the 2nd version, directed by another film titan Luis Buñuel and is the best out of the 3 (according to reviews), so if you’re interested, do so.
10. GOODNIGHT MOMMY (2014)
As you can see from the stills above, this movie can be a minimalist’s horror film dream. The silences plus the methodical use of negative space are successful in creating the movie’s whole feel, as well as tableau shots, that’s very eerie, tense and unnerving (again, refer to those freaky stills above).
I absolutely abhor torture films, the reason why I still couldn’t get myself into watching Michael Haneke’s Funny Games. So I was just squirming from my screen, eyes and ears fully covered, during its final act because what was happening was horrible and super disturbing and obviously I don’t need it in my life.
Of course, I’d take glances every now and then and so I could tell that the torture parts are done so tastefully (oh god i feel sick for saying that) so kudos to these amazing female directors.
Just a very slight carping about the film, the mystery/twist feels very familiar and derivative. It was too evident and so I already figured out what the other twin was 10 minutes from the start.
This film as a whole is one of the most disquieting films I’ve seen recently and left me shaken and shook for some terrible minutes.
11. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (2017)
So this post has been brewing for 2 weeks now (I saw this in the cinema just before the month of April ended.) It’s not because I got lazy but aside from being busy with work, I always find writing reviews for amazing movies much difficult than movies I didn’t like.
Topping the first installment, I thought, was nearly impossible. But this second one not only leaped through that invisible line of expectation. It knows its own freedom and so skyrocketed its way to miles level of high.
I laughed, I cried, laughed some more and just marveled at how amazing this movie was — visual-wise, story-wise, script-wise, acting-wise and soundtrack-wise. It’s an adventure-ride full of action and hilarity and has full of heart. Everyone involved in the making of this movie should feel real proud.
Movie Month in Review for March
Movie Month in Review for February
Movie Month in Review for January