Sunday, September 11, 2011

Click Flicks for 2011

... And did not blog about right away. But here they are. Thanks to friends and colleagues who found it fun to watch these movies, and we just loved exchanging views after.

Captain America: The First Avenger 

Image from Yahoo! Movies
The mad dash to Greenbelt 3 to secure our reserved tickets on time was worth it.

It is not a great movie (and I have no basis to compare it with the comics since I'm not a fan of it), but it delivered the expected action and I think Chris Evans' looks perfectly fit the classically handsome American actor who would you like to be a superhero, like Christoper Reeve to Superman.

The movie did not fail to expound on how Captain America was first of an experiment --- both becoming a super soldier and a major propaganda product of his time. From the opening to closing, the images of America and World War II gave the film an authentic '40s feel.

Acting wise, there's nothing much to expect from Evans but Stanley Tucci (Dr. Abraham Erskine) and Hugo Weaving (Johann Schmidt/Red Skull) provided the acting prowess to this Marvel comics' title. Of course, Tommy Lee Jones' gruff Col. Chester Phillips provided the edge and the laughs for this film.

Captain America is molded not only a hero in blue and red suit --- and a shield --- but he is also portrayed to be a source of hope and inspiration. In the tradition of Marvel films, the teaser after the credit was the awaited part, and we're just excited for The Avengers next year, and for that, it is Robert Downey, Jr. that I am relying on for some acting chops on this upcoming flick.

Larry Crowne

Image from http://larrycrowne.com
I love Tom Hanks as a great actor of his time and that's the main reason why I watched this romantic comedy starred and directed by him.

A Navy veteran, Larry Crowne had been the model employee of a big-box store, suddenly found his life in a twist when he was downsized from work, citing that he did not finish college. He found his second chance in life by enrolling in a community college, specifically attending a speech class with Julia Roberts (Mercedes Tainot) as his teacher, and yes, they fell in love with each other.

The movie elicited laughs, but overall, it was lazy acting both from Hanks and Roberts. Maybe because it was supposed to be a light, feel good film that did not require acting from these caliber stars? But then, after seeing them in heavy, award-winning dramas (they previously starred in Charlie Wilson's War and are both Academy award winners), you kind of expect them to truly deliver.

For saving grace, English actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Talia is refreshing --- she was such a delight to watch as Larry's classmate who dragged him to scooter rides and constant fashion makeovers. The rest of the cast like Cedric the Entertainer (Larry's neighbor who constantly holds garage sale, Lamar), Taraji P. Henson (B'Ella, Lamar's wife), Wilmer Valderrama (Dell Gordo, Talia's boyfriend) seemed to be a waste as they only have very few moments to shine in the film.

Despite such, the movie really made me feel good about myself, and it is never too late to find your place, your life, your love, and for that, it's A for Hanks for the effort. 

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank
(The Woman in the Septic Tank)

Image from Wikipedia
This is the best Filipino film I've seen in years, a brilliant product of both independent film genre and of mainstream success.

It indeed drawn out the huge mix of emotions --- mainly laughter. And somehow, laughing about the deplorable state of poverty in the Philippines (for which the film's setting was mainly about) was both a source of guilt, and yes, huge, huge laughter that I ended both crying and laughing at the same time (and a colleague of mine was literally sinking in his seat for his uncontrollable laughing).

From geniuses Marlon Rivera and Chris Martinez, the film is about three overly ambitious filmmakers (young actors JM De Guzman as producer BingBong, Kean Cipriano as director Rainer, and Cai Cortez as production assistant Jocelyn). They wanted to make an indie film that would reap success in both local and foreign scene, eventually winning the Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film.

Armed with what they believe is a winning script, a perfect location, and all they lack was the actress to play as Mila, a mother from the slums, who out of desperation to survive, has sold her child to a pedophile --- the tormented heroine in their film, Walang Wala (Nothing --- which translations they made was just ridiculously funny).

Until after debating among indie actress Mercedes Cabral, soap opera staple Cherry Pie Picache, they made a courtesy call and eventually chose thespian and now hugely hit mainstream comedian, Eugene Domingo, who spoofed herself in this film.

The movie-within-a-movie gets reborn in Jocelyn’s imagination several times --- from neo-realist film, to glossy musical, to over-the-top melodrama, to a docu drama using non-actors. Their romanticization of poverty taught these three young film makers a very hard lesson. The same goes for Domingo, who did not want to do the septic tank scene but ended down there (and no, they really did not use a filthy septic tank, as the director explained in his interviews).

The film topped the Cinemalaya independent film competition, bagging major prizes and the acting honor for Domingo, who really was in character as Mila, and gamely spoofed herself --- who started in the industry as a struggling theater actress and someone who has the heart for rising filmmakers, but the truth is she is a box-office star and a diva already --- well, in this film. Domingo, is just brilliant. Period. And she just stated the obvious about TV Patrol and other prime time newscasts these days.

And of course, who would forget the Italian coffee, "expresso"??? And such all makes this movie a brilliant piece, ironies and all it showed.

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Image from Wikipedia
And I thought the genre of romantic comedy with an ensemble cast remained such --- but this one delivered, so far the best romantic comedy with an ensemble cast.

Steve Carell (Cal Weaver) and Julianne Moore as his wife, Emily, were married for 20 plus years. Their marriage was suddenly on the rocks when Emily cheated on Cal with a coworker, David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). Cal moved into his own apartment and began frequenting a bar talking loudly about his divorce, until Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) took pity on him and taught Cal to how to get over his divorce, pick up the women of his choice, and  even gave him a fashion makeover. But Jacob later found love with Hannah (Emma Stone).

You know that for every genre of a film like this, the characters are connected. But the connection that was revealed here was unexpected. Delightfully unexpected. The neurotic performance of Kate (Marisa Tomei) and the love struck teenager son of Cal and Emily, Robbie (Jonah Bobo) also gave this richly-laden cast of stars a further boost.

The film was funny --- poignantly funny at some points. It was also a tearjerker to some extent, especially the scene when Emily called Cal over some household chore trouble, when Cal was actually there secretly maintaining their backyard. You just feel there that they still love each other, and that made Cal realized he would win Emily back.

Personally, the film left me questioning myself --- that if I jumped out of the car right away (like Cal did after learning of Emily's cheating and wanting a divorce) instead of fighting hard for the love I believe was and still is?

Anyhow, the movie sent the universal message that love is both crazy and stupid, but if you believe in it, you will have the love you deserve. And this film, is now in my list of feel good films to watch over and over. And oh, Josh Groban was not that bad for his very brief exposure in this film.