On Kid Wisdom

I’m sick of seeing kid wisdom in romantic comedies. We already saw this in Love, Actually– and seeing it in that movie was enough. We saw it again in Definitely, Maybe. And again in 500 Days of Summer. We’ve seen it in almost every romantic comedy where adults are faced with love problems and it takes a bit of “kid wisdom” to smack them into their senses. But the thing with kid wisdom is that I don’t understand it. Is it supposed to be funny? Are we supposed to laugh seeing a 13-year-old preach about being in love and finding your soulmate and never giving up? It’s not cute and it will never be. It gets even more annoying when the adult protagonists realize that the kid wisdom makes sense and deliver the cliche line, “Kid, how old are you again?” (this has got to be one of my favorites).

There’s a lot of kid wisdom in Crazy, Stupid, Love; in fact, one of the main characters, Steve Carrell’s son Robbie, is the source of all that kid wisdom. It’s a real shame the final shot of this movie was of Robbie exuding the kind of “everything’s gonna be alright” look through his shaggy locks and annoying smirk. If it isn’t obvious by now, I really hate kid wisdom in movies, especially when it makes me forget about how excited I was about Josh Groban’s feature film debut. sad, sad


Welcome to the World of Roller Derby

Juno stars in Drew Barrymore’s 2009 directorial debut Whip It.
Whip It is about a girl named Bliss (played by Juno played by Ellen Page) who is groomed to become a beauty pageant winner by her controlling mother played by Marcia Gay Harden. Awkward and boyish Bliss is anything but interested in her mother’s wishes. One day, she and her only friend Pash encounter a group of roller skating girls, which gives Bliss the idea of joining the roller derby league herself. “You don’t have the balls!” Pash tells Bliss. “I can grow the balls!” Bliss answers back. Of course we can expect Ellen Page to deliver such a line with matching sparkling wit. She’s supposed to be a jokester; but she’s extremely painful to watch. Pardon my bias.
Moving along, plot has nothing that interests me. I don’t know anything about roller derby. Up until recently, I had thought it was a made up sport like that they did for the movie Dodgeball. This movie is a lot like Bend it like Beckham with a less likeable coach and an all-star cast. I enjoyed seeing Juliette Lewis in it cos her role reminded me of her Natural Born Killers days but I despised seeing Drew Barrymore onscreen (a simple 5 second cameo would do). But the one thing that really bothered me was the amount of effort exerted in building up scenes (especially the tricky swimming pool one) for Bliss and her love interest only for them to not end up together. All in the name of a strong sense of feminism that is empowering for women, I suppose. I like movies about sacrifices in the name of sport and self-discovery but what a perfectly wasted swimming pool sequence that was. Tsk

When Real-life Drama Meets the Absurd


I wanted to watch Downloading Nancy when I first saw the trailer in 2009: it was during a time when I regarded all dark and depressing movies as good movies (in the same vein as art movies, haha). It’s hard to tell what makes a depressing movie good: does it strike the right emotional chords? Is there retribution at the end?. But in the case of this drama/thriller, you can tell there’s got to be something wrong when you start to snicker a little. Yes, somehow director Johan Renck managed to turn something as serious as emotional disturbance into something groan-worthy. Nancy (played by Maria Bello) is an abused and depressed wife who seeks solace in an online acquaintance. Later on we find out that their relationship is hinged on her request to be killed by him because she’s too weak a character to simply kill herself. Now this is where it starts to get freaky as Nancy begs her new friend, the sick sadomasochist Louis to release her from her painful life after they meet each other and have kinky sex. He then starts to fall in love with Nancy after spending few light moments with her and persuades her to stay alive.

I put this movie in my to-watch list in 2009. Almost 3 years later I now realize that just because a movie is “the most disturbing film I’ve ever seen” and “not for the faint at heart” does not mean it has redemptive value. It’s as if this movie was made for the sake of being twisted, with the added lure that it was based on true events. The entire cast, especially the main character, are unsympathetic. The therapist was stupid, Nancy was stupid, the husband was stupid, and I really couldn’t care less if they all killed each other. The only true disturbing aspect of this movie is how shocked its audience supposed to be, given that it’s an ugly story that should’ve been told in all its ugliness.

The Agony of Adolescence

So this is the movie everyone keeps talking about. and by ‘everyone’, I am referring to the small number of people in my circle of friends who’ve endlessly raved about this sweet little Thai movie called A Little Thing Called Love or its alternate title ‘First Love.’ The alternate title seems more apt considering its simple and uncomplicated  plot.


Nam is an ordinary-looking (read: ugly) 14 year old girl who is secretly in love with an older schoolmate and school heartthrob, P’Shone. Girls swoon at the sight of him and no matter where he goes, what he wears, and  direction he looks, the camera angles and sunlight always seem to be in favor of his boyish looks and natural charm. He loves his family, he’s dedicated to his hobby (photography), and always carries with him a bright and cheerful disposition. (In other words, he is absolutely perfect and therefore this guy doesn’t exist). Anyway, Nam tries to do everything to get P’Shone’s attention, and this is where the story starts to gain footing. She undergoes a full ugly duckling transformation and soon enough she becomes the school hottie. It’s not such an unpredictable plot, in fact, First Love makes use of the usual romantic comedy formula. What makes this movie special is that it went into the joys and agonies of adolescence told from a young girl’s point of view. It’s a very enjoyable movie to watch, plus that Mario Mauer isn’t bad to look at either. Hee hee. Watch this movie!


When things go bump in the night: Insidious

I thoroughly enjoyed Insidious (2011) for unknowingly paying tribute to both campy and non-campy horror movies: i.e., top of mind: the original Nightmare on Elm Street, Amityville Horror, Halloween, and the more recent horror flick Drag Me To Hell. James Wan’s Insidious stars Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson as a young couple who’s just moved into their new house when strange things start happening. Rose Byrne’s character starts seeing hallucinations (or are they?) while things go bump in the night, all at the same time their son, Dalton, falls into a deep and long coma after falling off a ladder in their attic. The incident leaves him in a vegetative state for no apparent reason. As Paranormal Activity-like things start to happen to the family, they decides to move out of the new house, only to find out that whatever was haunting them has taken on new and unexpected dimensions. After the first 15 minutes, Insidious turns into a very tongue-in-cheek horror movie, but it manages to balance out its suspense scenes and jump-scare moments throughout the rest of the film.

As this movie came from the maker of the Saw series, I was glad to know that the same amount of bloodshed and gore wasn’t apparent in Insidious. It has its winning scenes (all the silly ones) and its not-so-winning scenes (where too much story exposition took place) but the craziness of it outweighed all the slow-paced parts but still it was all in great fun. Just remember when watching Insidious, if you think about it too much, you’ll miss the point of it.


Thoughts on Rakenrol by Quark Henares

Is a ‘personal project’ the new name for these types of self-centered films? Cos if that’s true then I didn’t get the memo. I’ve always hated how filmmakers talk so much about movies they’ve always wanted to make (ie: personal projects), only for its audience to find out that they’re not the right audience for it while the movie turns out to be one big inside joke.

Rakenrol is intended for a niche market, but within that market lies another niche market (ie: friends of the musicians and the filmmaker himself) sorry just had to say it but that’s how I feel. Anyway I didn’t feel a real connection with any of its main characters for several reasons: for one, we aren’t told little things about whatshisface Jason Abalos like where he lives, how many brothers and sisters he has, who his parents are, etc. But I assume his love for rock music was supposed to be a good enough standalone identifier. Rakenrol doesn’t represent the rock and roll music scene in the Philippines and doesn’t even feel remotely close to an accurate description of how a guy like whashisface Jason Abalos’ character made it to several gigs from singing in his bedroom in just a matter of months. I can tell it’s only been months because no childbirth was made known at the end of the movie. Random random random i will publish this unfinished with half baked thoughts. Another thing. Take a look at that misleading poster, you woulda thought the story would be told by Glaiza de Castro but no. Oh the only thing I liked about this movie was Jacci Rocha. I mean I like the name, it’s a good name, Jacci Rocha. Rolls off the tongue nicely and it’s very catchy. Jacci Rocha. Another thing. I can’t believe they screened this movie in international film festivals, knowing now niche within a niche market it is. At least poverty porn movies are relate-able to everyone else around the world but this one? I dunno. The songs weren’t even catchy or memorable. Then again, it’s a “personal project” so I shall say no more 🙂


Zombieland

There aren’t much zombies in Zombieland. The illusions of the grandeur of a zombie-infested world have escaped the movie in its first hour as my interest in the movie started to wane, then pick up, then wane all over again; just like the intermittent appearance of the undead in this newest comedy. But fun is fun, and what’s irrational will remain irrational. Zombieland doesn’t fortify the magic of movies but gets it point across pretty clear: don’t act on impulse or else you might just shoot the next big important celebrity.