Category Archives: Reviews

Much Ado About MMA

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All I know about the 2011 movie Warrior is that my brother said it was a good movie that he said made people cry even if he didn’t. I looked up the trailer and found out that it was an MMA movie which only means one thing: that it’s about MMA or mixed martial arts. But Warrior is more than just an MMA movie- it’s a 2-hour long cliche infused with the MMA backdrop theme. Joel Edgerton plays Brendan, a physics teacher and former MMA fighter. When the folks at the bank tell him they’ll need to foreclose his house, he then becomes motivated to make some extra cash in order to escape from filing bankruptcy. He isn’t about to back down so he decides to go back to being a fighter to make an extra buck. Think John Q, The Wrestler, and Million Dollar Baby rolled into one, only the sport is MMA. Then enters a subplot about his long lost brother, Tommy (played by Tom Hardy), who, too, is a former MMA fighter and an ex-Marine haunted by his tragic past. He and his brother Brendan soon meet at Sparta, the Superbowl of MMA.

ImageNick Nolte plays Brendan’s dad and former trainer. Here, Nick Nolte is his Nick Nolte self (read rickety and sad). There is a dramatic scene where father and son (Nick Nolte and Tom Hardy) ensue their family drama which ends in Hardy throwing coins at Nolte. It was in this moment where I thought it’s sad seeing people onscreen being mean to their fathers, but it’s even sadder seeing people being mean to Nick Nolte. Anyway the point of my writing is that I enjoyed watching this movie albeit the closely shot fight sequences and cheesy split screen treatment for the training sequences.

The real point is that who cares if Warrior was a 2 hour long cliche? Everything else with a similar theme was. Joel Edgerton as Brendan is the hero I never expected and Tom Hardy was the tragic antagonist/protagonist I never thought was possible. We want to relate to our heroes in movies. The struggle was clear (a little too clear) and because of this, we saw that there truly is no heroism without failure risked or faced. Warrior isn’t a consistently good movie but that’s almost beside the point: the excitement is sustained by a brilliant idea (even if it’s “just an MMA movie”), a new variant on the classic theme of the underdog and his rise to glory.

Or maybe I just loved the use of the songs in the movie, ‘Start a War’ and ‘About Today’ by The National. What can I say, they’re my favorite band.

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Judd and Kevin make a movie

zack_and_miri_make_a_pornoZack and Miri Make a Porno ( 2008 )

I heard from a friend once that the sweetest thing a guy could ever do for his girlfriend is to think of her as he masturbates. With that in mind, Zack and Miri embodies just that idea, being ewww and awww at the same time.

An appropriate conclusion to my recent Kevin Smith marathon, his latest View Askew foray once again tells a crude yet endearing story about everyday people finding love in the most awkward and unusual of situations. Although Zack and Miri falls a few threads short of a supposed tapestry of emotions and themes, it’s Smith’s dialogue that left me in stitches with the right amount of heartfelt sap that equates to this unconventional romantic comedy perfect for a Wednesday evening. Oh and Jason Mewes aka Jay is in it, too yay drool gah


Wacking out

wacknessThe Wackness ( 2008 )

Top-billed among popular movie blog sites as The Movie Where Gandhi Sucks Face With That Olsen Twin, ‘The Wackness’ really IS that movie and a lot more. In the same vein as most coming-of-age movies, ‘The Wackness’ contains the usual ingredients of teenage angst tragicomedies set to a Manhattan ’90s summer backdrop.

There is definitely an autobiographical feel to this slightly maudlin drama, and it’s exactly the kind of storytelling that shows more love for the writer’s own material rather than reaching out to its audience. Josh Peck’s portrayal of the low-key teen Luke Shapiro is fun to watch (but delivers the oddest lines no human would ever say) and Ben Kingsley effortlessly steals every scene as Dr. Squires- a psychiatrist with more issues than all his patients combined. But with each ensuing scene, Peck’s character becomes less and less likeable- and so does the whole movie. Surreal elements stick out; and at the end of it all, it’s come down to the same material we’ve seen before- just lensed a different way. Shapiro’s eventual transformation isn’t rewarding, nor is it moving. In fact it stays true to the film’s nature. Uhmm, now that’s wack, yo.


Bhollywood

You warm the naan within my heart, Saawariya!

Sing to me, Saawariya!

saawariya posterSaawariya (2007) : 1.5/5

It presents itself as a fairly easy movie to love; but as treacherous as most films tend to be, Saawariya stabs you in the back with an excruciating 120+ minutes of blue hued cinematography on fanciful sets with overextended (and forgettable) song numbers (with the exclusion of the catchy title song, haha).

I wanted to like this movie. I wanted to like the characters but none of them proved to be worthy of forging an affinity with, as they all seemed either too naive, too stupid, too dreamy, or too achingly annoying. Come to think of it, Saawairya doesn’t live up to its supposed expectations. When the most intriguing thing about a film is its production design and gorgeous lead actors, you know you’re in trouble (I forgot where I read this).

In its entirety, Saawariya’s handicap is unclear but you’ll definitely see it wobbling hard as the film climaxes. It turned out to be a sad case of abandoned characters and a forgotten plot- all for the sake of an overly stylized fairy-tale like Indian utopia. And without even reading the IMDB trivia page, it’s evident that Hollywood has dipped its dirty fingers into what would’ve been a delicious Bollywood treat. It has now tarnished into a soiled amalgamation of both, which i now dub as Bhollywood. I know. Ang baho talaga.


Crumb-y Korean Horror

Entertain us

Entertain us

Hansel & Gretel (2007): 2/5

There’s something about Korean films that’s just innately weird and unpredictable (this one reminded me of ‘Cut’ in the Three Extremes trilogy)- and it is precisely in those qualities where its predictability stems from. Its story is bleak, in spite of the highly paradoxical (yet appropriate) and picturesque rainbow-doused color scheme glaring out of the screen- too bad, really, because behind this curtain of hopeful possibilities for a classic horror story lies a dragging narrative devoid of any grotesque, overt scares and cheap thrills (which I think I was initially after- haha). In the end, I felt deprived of any such catharsis as the odd and surreal twists and turns lead to an ambiguous (not in a good way) conclusion.


Shmash-shmortion!

He has a nice personality

He has a nice personality

Knocked Up (2007): 4/5

Contrary to popular belief, I do keep an open mind when it comes to movies of the Will Ferrell type (the ones of the Happy Madison people, however, have gotten increasingly irritating- must be the mood swings or that time of the month). But i’m glad this movie caught me at neither occasion. Regardless of it being another stoner flick with endless hit-and-miss comedic bits, this movie isn’t as knocked up as it appears to be, yet there is some heart to be found in the depths of its apparent and well, stupid-movie surface. It runs a bit too long though, clocking in at more than 2 hours, but the point being driven at is clearly there (or did I look too much into this movie?).

It’s a good movie, this one is. Good movies make you care, make you believe in possibilities again. And to sum up, a line from one of Woody Allen’s movies comes to mind after watching Knocked Up (for the second time!). It goes:- “I just met the most wonderful man. He’s fictional but you can’t have everything.” 🙂


Coherent Insanity

Bangkok aint big enough for the two of us

Bangkok aint big enough for the two of us

Tears of the Black Tiger (2000): 4.5/5

Tears of the Black Tiger had me at the opening credits (not to mention the movie’s title alone). It certainly is a unique movie, being a Thai western cult melodrama fused with stylized color-flustereded scenes and awesome, absurd imagery. With horrible acting and extremely laughable dialogue, ‘Black Tiger’ is consistently awkward and corny, and knowing that it’s the kind of movie that doesn’t take itself seriously makes it all the more endearing. Thanks to http://eternalsunshineofthelogicalmind.blogspot.com I found some screencaps to the movie since I can’t find the words to express how much I truly enjoyed it. If you ever get a hold of a copy, take note that this wonderful piece of bizarre cinema is meant to be a FUN film. Nitpickers stay away haha this one’s for keeps.