Can’t Help Falling in Love Movie Review

The new movie of KathNiel is directed by the person who directed 2014’s Bride for Rent. I am very nervous……

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Directed by Mae Czarina Cruz-Alviar, Can’t Help Falling in Love is the latest addition to the KathNiel movie list.

Gab (Kathryn Bernardo) just got engaged from her boyfriend of six years, Jason (Matteo Guidicelli). Everything seems to be peachy until a letter claiming she is legally married to a stranger flips her world around. She decides to meet the stranger, Dos (Daniel Padilla), and persuades him to file for separation. But as they attempt to end their “marriage”, a relationship blossoms along the way.

First of all, what I like about the movie is that there truly is great chemistry between Kathryn and Daniel. It is to be expected from a showbiz couple with 5 previous movies and numerous shows in their history. Each kilig moment feels genuine and organic.

The filmmakers obviously utilized drones to take establishing shots, and it looks great. However, the quality of the video is obviously lower.

Most of the humor in the movie work well. However, some of them were cringy given how cliche and predictable the scenes/lines are.

And that brings me to one of my biggest problems with the movie. It is just predictable and cliched.

SPOILER ALERT

Of course, Dos and Gab being together is the desirable and predictable outcome, but I’m talking how the scenes would go and the lines would be delivered. Also, the filmmakers need to learn about subtlety. The movie went the A Walk to Remember route, but fails to deliver the plot twist well. It was so on the nose!

In line with this, there are key moments/scenes in the movie that could have benefited if there were no background music (ex. the parking lot scene).

Also, there was a sub-plot with a transgender character that is totally unnecessary.

Lastly, my biggest problem with the movie is the ultra unrealistic reaction of Dos when he learns about the marriage and his actions later on. Though the movie tried to justify it in a very half-baked manner (with only 15 minutes left), it is simply too hard to buy it. Then again, that one might just be me….

Can’t Help Falling in Love is a rom-com movie with genuine chemistry between its co-stars, but even that will not save it from its cliche story and worn out scenes. This is…

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Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Scarlett Johansson in a skin-tight tactical suit… That’s a pretty good marketing strategy.

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Based on the Japanese manga of the same name, Ghost in the Shell is directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman). Since its announcement, much criticism was given to the casting of Scarlett Johansson as The Major. Whether or not the movie will be better if a Japanese actress is cast is anyone’s guess. Here is my review of Ghost in the Shell.

The Major (Johansson) is a cyborg counter-terrorist who/that was saved by and works for Hanka, a private robotics organization with ties to the government. Though her memories from her life before being The Major is blurred, she regularly sees visions of her childhood. In her recent cybercrime case, she meets another cyborg, Kuze (Michael Pitt), who aims to destroy Hanka … and holds the secret to The Major’s past.

Let it be clear that artistic license was obviously used in this movie. The casting does not bother me at all. What matters is the story and how it was delivered.

Batou (Pilou Asbæk) and The Major’s chemistry is well shown in the movie. Their interactions show deep concern and friendship.  Also, The Major’s relationship with her de-facto mother, Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche), provides another good relationship in the movie.

The visuals are stunning! From the robot geishas to the city itself, the CGI helped greatly in building the world of GitS.

Scarlett Johansson’s performance as The Major is a bit of a debate in my mind. It reminds me so much of her performance in 2014 Lucy, and I never liked that movie. But then again, her movement is robotic, and it is kinda obvious why she would act that way.

The fascinating thing about GitS is that it has a great story and characters (just look at the anime), but its greatest blunder is its execution.

The movie feels extremely slow. Half of the time, I find myself demanding the movie to pick up the pace. Scenes that should have shown great character development feels so dull because of the way it is revealed or shown.

The soundtrack may have helped in giving this slow-paced movie a much slower feel.

Ghost in the Shell has great potential. Though it may have an A-list lead and stunning visuals, it fails to deliver a well-paced and engaging story. Sadly, this is…

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Hacksaw Ridge Film Review

If there’s something Mel Gibson proved in The Passion of the Christ and Hacksaw Ridge, it’s that he can make masterpieces with blood and gore.

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Director Mel Gibson delivers yet another war film filled with intense action and and a lot of people dying.

At the outbreak of World War II, conscientious objector Desmond Doss (Garfield), enlists in the army as a combat medic, much to the disappointment of his father (Hugo Weaving). During the course (ahem) of his training and even that of the war, many of Doss’ co-soldiers (platoonmates? squadmates? I don’t know the term) and senior officers think of him as a huge liability. His faith and strong beliefs are tested as his division is assigned to take over the Maeda Escarpment/Hacksaw Ridge.

What I really like about this film is how it builds up to the brutal and high-octane second part. It might be too much for some audience, but the film shows war in its true state: nothing but carnage and mayhem. Beautifully choreographed and well-shot scenes of metal slugs bursting through anyone.

Garfield’s character, Desmond, attempts to patch it all up, literally and metaphorically as he mentioned in the trial scene. This is Andrew Garfield’s best acting yet. He has escaped the Spiderman’s shadow.

Hugo Weaving is amazing as a troubled WWI veteran and father of Doss. One scene he is an abusive husband; the next, he is a dad to the rescue. Through him, we see what Doss could have been if he let the war engulf him.

And that is what I like the best about this film. Doss’ belief of no killing and no guns is shown in such a way that we understand his reasons and we obviously understand his superiors’ annoyance of it. Is he a zealot or is he just stubborn? In the face of Armageddon, is it okay to let go of your morals and beliefs?

His relationship with Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer) is also a very integral part of the film. In his most vulnerable state, he clings to his love of Dorothy to help him stick to his beliefs.

The last scene which features real interviews from Doss and other people in the war made me tear up a little. His life story reminded me of another WWII hero, Audie Murphy.

Hacksaw Ridge has amazing everything: cast, story, cinematography, action, and drama. I enjoyed every bit of it. Because of this, I truly believe this is…

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My Ex and Whys Film Review

They could simply just shoot the “Liza Soberano in the rain” slow-mo shot for 2 hours, and it will still be a wonderful sight.

my-ex-and-whys-secondary-posterDirected and co-written by Cathy Garcia-Molina, My Ex and Whys stars Enrique Gil and Liza Soberano. An expert in the rom-com genre, Garcia-Molina attempts to give us yet another memorable rom-com.

The story starts with call center agent/blogger Cali Ferrer (Soberano), whose twitter blog @TheBakitList slowly gains fame. After attending a blog con, Cali has an online discussion/argument with a new blogger, Gio Martinez (Enrique Gil), who happens to be her ex. The twitter war leads to both their blogs being instantly famous, and they are hired to promote a bag company. Meanwhile, Gio attempts to win Cali over again, but Cali’s trust has been long gone.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room…Liza Soberano is simply gorgeous*! Like wow! Every frame involving her is a beautiful painting. That “Cali and Gio meets for the first time” scene was so cheesy yet you can’t help admit that Liza is really a beautiful woman.

It is quite clear that the two have chemistry. C’mon, they have been working on their love team for a few years already. When the humor and the drama hits, you feel that a relationship is about to be rebuilt or destroyed all over again.

Speaking of which, both the humor and the drama work so well in this film. Back and forth the humor and the drama go. Much of the humor is provided by Gio’s all-male family. Joey Marquez shines as the patriarch of Gio’s family. The drama between the two leads is very effective because of their chemistry. You can really sympathize with Cali’s pain and you can feel Gio’s attempts to redeem himself.

Also, the film used social media as a means to move the story forward, which is pretty rare in Filipino movies. Every tweet is treated like a piece of dialogue.

Besides Liza Soberano, the other scene stealer of the film is the character of Lee (Ryan Bang). At the start of the film, Bang portrayed the character with his usual image, a dorky Asian who is having a hard time speaking Filipino. But then he starts acting in the drama scenes. Like wow! I never knew Ryan Bang can act.

The sub-plot about Lee’s upcoming wedding was also done well. It provided Lee’s character to develop more than just a bestfriend of the two leads, and it allowed the romance between the two leads to be set in motion. However, in a few parts of the film, it outshines the primary narrative.

Also, some of the minor characters in the film were either unconvincing (Cali’s two brothers), exaggerated (Cali’s girl bestfriend), or unnecessary (Lee’s Korean friend).

SPOILER ALERT

Lastly, the end of the film ignored or did not present the consequences of Cali’s actions. Her public image and professional career might be in jeopardy for all we know, but the film showed us the happy ending where they get together.

My Ex and Whys is another rom-com from Cathy Garcia-Molina that hits the right spot most of the time. Though it may have been better if certain characters were either scrapped or polished, it is still a fun watch and may pull some heart strings. This film is…

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*Kinda obvious I have a crush on her

La La Land Film Review

There was a time when musicals ruled Hollywood. This film reminds us of the greatness of that era.

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Director Damien Chazelle, who gave us 2014’s Whiplash, one of the greatest films of that year, now gives us another music-heavy film with a lot of comedy, drama, nostalgia, and of course a great soundtrack.

The film centers around the relationship between Mia (Emma Stone), a barista by day and struggling artist by day and night, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz pianist who dreams to own a club. Conflicts rise when they realize that to achieve a successful future means to sacrifice precious things in the present.

Holy nostalgia! I love this film! Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and Donald O’Connor would be proud. The title sequence itself is a big shout-out to the musical of the 40s and 50s (or the entire genre in general). The film felt like a treasure hidden from a time capsule from an era almost forgotten… a time when the actors should really have talent! The Epilogue scene reminds of The Broadway Melody Ballet featured in Singin’ in the Rain.

SPOILER ALERT!

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have such great chemistry together. One feels the relationship build and crumble as the film progresses. We love it when they achieve the smallest success, and we empathize when they stumble on obstacles.

Of course, the third character of the film is its soundtrack/music. It’s quite rare for a modern musical to transition itself from a dialogue-scene to a singing-scene. And the fact that it manages to hook such an emotion from the viewers… Mia and Sebastian’s Theme, anyone?

And the great thing about La La Land is that it does not shy away from the harsh realities of life. There is no “Everything Will Turn Out Right” button. We choose what happens to us. We are responsible to our lives. You want to achieve your dream? There’s a price, and it’s not cheap.

La La Land hits all the notes. Just like Sebastian’s passionate speech about jazz, it is only by watching, listening, and digesting this film can one truly experience its greatness. This film is definitely…

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Die Beautiful Film Review

Paolo Ballesteros as a homosexual might be overdone, but it’s still effective.

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Director Jun Robles Lana and Paolo Ballesteros deliver a film that touches the issues of discrimination, betrayal, obsession, and brotherhood (or sisterhood) through the corpse of a dead homosexual.

Die Beautiful is about the life (and death) of Patrick/Trisha, a transgender woman. Her life was told through a series of flashbacks, and the film goes back and forth when it comes to its timeline. Through the course of the story, the audience sees Patrick’s journey to being Trisha, her misadventures with having relationships with men, her obsession to participate in gay beauty contests, her friendship with fellow transgender, Barbs (Christian Bables), and her relationship with her adopted daughter, Shirley.

Ballesteros won the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival – Best Actor category, and it clearly shows that he deserves it. You can clearly see the struggle between Patrick and his father (Joel Torre) and how it affects him.* Or the heartache Trisha felt when her partners left her behind.

Another great thing about this film is its comedy. Ballesteros has incredible comedic timing, as expected from him. All the other gay characters, especially the one played by  Bables, were spot on with their comedic cues and jokes. The characters often use humor to mask the problems they face.

And that is another thing. The film goes back and forth when it comes to its tone. One second you’re laughing hard at someone’s joke about penises. The other, you feel uncomfortable watching a particular scene.** These scenes allow you to understand Trisha, a flawed person who means well for the people she loves. The paragraph Trisha remembered for the Q&As of the beauty pageants might show the resiliency of her character. Or it might show her stubbornness to positively change for the people closest to her.

However, what the film makes up for incredible humor and acting, it suffers from some pacing issues. There was really no build up to something huge that might happen near its so-called climax. There was a potential for one though, but it was not used.*** Also, there were some scenes that seem to be unnecessary for the film as a whole, i.e. the Jessie arc.

Furthermore, the film showed a plethora of scenes or plot points that we have seen over and over in a homosexual story. Nothing new was brought to the table except its continuous timeline shifts.

Die Beautiful is a film filled with great comedy and incredible acting. However, it also has not shown anything new when it comes to gay-centered stories. For this reason, this film is…

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*Before the “operation”
**Won’t tell you

SPOILER ALERT

*** Barbs technically stole Trisha’s body from her family (her father).