Category Archives: Movies

Film Review: suzume no tojimari (2022)

Suzume, a 16-year-old high school student, meets Souta, a man in his twenties who introduces himself as a “closer” and is on a mission to close the doors through which a large worm-like creature is attempting to emerge and cause disasters throughout Japan. Suzume is compelled to take on Souta’s task and travel throughout Japan to close these doors after a magical keystone vanishes and transforms into a cat, cursing Souta and transforming him into Suzume’s childhood chair.

I’m on the fence about this one because I’m a big fan of Makoto Shinkai, and his last two major films, Your Name and Weathering With You, were mega blockbusters, so my expectations were pretty high. Despite the fact that it is in 2D, I knew I had to see it in IMAX. I watched it over the weekend and did not regret spending 690 PHP because Shinkai’s animation is simply breathtaking.

photo courtesy of impawards

Suzume, the titular lead, is a brave character. Her sense of responsibility is admirable, but at the end of the day, she’s still a 16-year-old girl raised by her aunt after her mother died when she was very young. She’s a typical adolescent who rebels, trying to find her place in the sun, and she’s still that kid who misses her mother. If there’s one word that best describes her, it’s resilience.

Souta’s character on the other hand lacks backstory. We were only informed that he comes from a family that ‘closes’ these doors or gates, and he decided to be a teacher just to have a paying job, and that’s all. There was a lingering question about Souta’s family being “closers” at the back of my mind. It was like, “Are you guys from a secret society, or was it bestowed by some sort of magical being since they’ve been “Closers” for generations?” Another question I have that is central to the story is, “Where do these worms come from? We were informed about “Ever After” or “After Life” or an alternate universe, but why do these things emerge in the first place?

The narrative, in my opinion, was not as strong as in the director’s previous works because, despite covering such heavy topics and events—the film was apparently inspired by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster, which I saw on TV while it was happening, which was terrifying and heartbreaking—it feels very niche.

What I meant earlier when I said I was on the fence was that I didn’t connect much with the characters in the film. Yes, they’re likable enough, but unlike Mitsuha and Taki in “Your Name” and Hodaka and Hina in “Weathering With You,” I didn’t really root for them.

I find myself trying to just enjoy other aspects of the film. I enjoyed the bits about Suzume spending time with the amazing strangers she met while she was traveling with Souta as a chair. The conclusion was definitely the strongest part of the film, as Suzume gets to confront her loss, her guilt towards her aunt, and find her place in the sun. Another enjoyable aspect of it is its music. Its soundtrack is heavenly; I had to stay until the film credits ended.

The film was nominated for Animation of the Year at this year’s Japan Academy Film Prize, which goes to show how much Shinkai’s work is revered in his home country. I’m probably in the minority in not fully embracing the film, but if you enjoy fantastic visuals and awesome music, this is a must-see!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Director: Makoto Shinkai
Nanoka Hara as Suzume Iwato (岩戸 鈴芽, Iwato Suzume)[4]
Akari Miura as child Suzume[5]
Hokuto Matsumura as Sōta Munakata (宗像 草太, Munakata Sōta)[6]
Eri Fukatsu as Tamaki Iwato (岩戸 環, Iwato Tamaki)[7]
Shota Sometani as Minoru Okabe (岡部 稔, Okabe Minoru)[7]
Sairi Ito as Rumi Ninomiya (二ノ宮 ルミ, Ninomiya Rumi)[7]
Kotone Hanase as Chika Amabe (海部 千果, Amabe Chika)[7]
Kana Hanazawa as Tsubame Iwato (岩戸 椿芽, Iwato Tsubame)[7]
Matsumoto Hakuō II as Hitsujirō Munakata (宗像 羊朗, Munakata Hitsujirō)[7]
Ryūnosuke Kamiki as Tomoya Serizawa (芹澤 朋也, Serizawa Tomoya)[8]
Ann Yamane as Daijin (ダイジン)[9]
Aimi as Miki (ミキ)[10]

Spencer, Starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana, opens November 17 in Philippine theaters!

Through their social media, Cinema Bravo announced that Spencer starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana, would open in Philippines theaters on November 17, 2021.

Storyline of Spencer: 

The marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles has long since grown cold. Though rumors of affairs and a divorce abound, peace is ordained for the Christmas festivities at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate. There’s eating and drinking, shooting and hunting. Diana knows the game. But this year, things will be profoundly different. SPENCER is an imagining of what might have happened during those few fateful days.

Since its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival last September, the film has received positive reviews from critics, with particular praise for Stewart’s performance. Stewart is now touted to be the early frontrunner of next year’s Oscar for Best Actress. Spencer is a film by Pablo Larrain, who directed the 2016 Academy Awards nominated film Jackie. 

I am excited to watch it! I’ve been a big fan of Stewart for years now, and I am proud of what she’s accomplished over the years working within the indie film industry after her Twilight years. I wanted the film to succeed here, and I hope the cinemas get very strict regarding the number of audience per screening because I still get paranoid with crowds.

ICYMI: After closure for almost two years, select cinemas within the National Capital Region (NCR) and provincial areas are opening. NCR and most of the Philippines are under Alert Level 2 until November 30, which means an increased capacity for businesses and activities, including the opening of theaters! 

Official Trailer: Spencer starring Kristen Stewart

Now, this looks absolutely smashing! Kristen looks the part, and she’s definitely channeling Princess Diana in these little snippets of her talking and those facial expressions!

The marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles has long since grown cold. Though rumors of affairs and a divorce abound, peace is ordained for the Christmas festivities at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate. There’s eating and drinking, shooting and hunting. Diana knows the game. But this year, things will be profoundly different. SPENCER is an imagining of what might have happened during those few fateful days.

Directed by Pablo Larraín
Written by Steven Knight
Starring Kristen Stewart, Jack Farthing, Sally Hawkins, Timothy Spall, Sean Harris

I’ve got a feeling that with all the raves she had been receiving since the film’s premiere in Venice last month, she’s getting that Oscar nod. I’m also curious to see if the BAFTA will also give her a nomination, at least. I cannot wait to watch it!

ICYMI: CODA (Audition Scene) and Official Trailer (2021)

I thought I’d share this audition scene from the movie CODA, a coming-of-age film that follows a hearing teenage girl who is a child of deaf adults (CODA for short). I’ve seen it multiple times now, and it never fails to move me, especially when she started signing midway through her audition.

CODA premiered in January at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, receiving rave critics’ reviews.

I haven’t watched the entire film, but I’m dying to see it. I’d probably schedule it where I would just stay in bed the whole day, eating while watching movies lol!

ICYMI: André Aciman’s “Find Me” – Sequel to Call Me By Your Name

Hey y’all Elio and Oliver fans! If you’re still hung up with Elio & Oliver from the book and film of the same name, Call Me By Your Name – then you’re up for a great weekend surprise as the book cover for the sequel to Call Me By Your Name, Find Me, has been revealed by André Aciman on his Twitter account. Aciman tweeted: “Here’s the cover of my forthcoming novel, FIND ME, where you’ll rediscover Elio and Oliver. Coming October 2019.”

I absolutely loved this cover!!!! It brings me back to that little Italian village when Elio and Oliver met for the first time!

And you guys know what this means!!!! A definite, definite film sequel! Although for those of you who have not read the book yet, (SPOILER ALERT!!!) it was actually already a bit conclusive in my opinion. So in this book, we may have Elio and Oliver just a bit older than the first one and it is still sadly going to be a bittersweet ending for our lovelies… But maybe the movie could end up on a happy note after all? Paging Luca, give us the ending we want please!!!

And for those of you who have not seen this film which should be a crime, tbh – you can now stream it on Netflix!!! Okkkuurrrt

Quick Post: My 2019 Oscars Predictions!

I am sharing to you what I’ve submitted to this year’s Pinoy Exchange Oscars Prediction Pool!

Best Picture – Roma

Best Director – Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Best Actress – Glenn Close, The Wife

Best Actor – Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Supporting Actress – Amy Adams, Vice

Best Supporting Actor – Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Best Original Screenplay – Roma

Best Adapted Screenplay – BlacKkKlansman

Best Animated Feature – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Foreign Language Film – Roma

Best Documentary – RBG

Best Film Editing – Vice

Best Original Score – Mary Poppins Returns – Marc Shaiman

Best Original Song – Shallow, A Star is Born

Best Cinematography – Roma

Best Visual Effects – Black Panther

Best Sound Editing – A Quiet Place

Best Sound Mixing – Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Production Design – The Favourite

Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Vice

Best Costume Design – The Favourite

Best Documentary Short Subject – Black Sheep

Best Live Action Short Film – Mother

Best Animated Short Film – Bao

Film Review: Searching (2018)

At the beginning of the film, we were introduced to David Kim’s family through a montage sets the mood of the film. It makes you root for this family. For this father who lost his wife to cancer and for the daughter that was left behind.

And when said daughter has gone missing, David tried every avenue to locate her including tracking her daughter’s online footprints and this is where the film got that thriller film that it’s almost maniacal at times, like your solving the case with David. I enjoyed Aneesh Shaganty’s way of telling the story via the screens of each gadget used in the film. This is how you make use of these ‘millennial’ stuff properly in a movie, if I may say so.

It is like a puzzle or a computer game with levels-up and it makes you thoroughly involved in it. I know I was trying to guess a twist midway through the film and it actually did not disappoint. It was a bit debatable but it feels new, it feels fresh. It helps that by this time, you’d already be emotionally invested.

Searching is masterfully crafted in a way that the technologies that shared the focal point of the film were balanced out by the sheer emotion behind the main story line. I’d definitely recommend this film especially if you’re looking for a good thriller with modern twists.

Director: Aneesh Shaganty
Cast: John Cho, Debra Messing, Michelle La

The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2018.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Film Review: Netflix’s Sierra Burgess is a Loser (2018)

Sierra Burgess played by Shannon Purser (Stranger Things, Riverdale) received a text from his long time crush Jamey (Noah Centineo) thinking the message was really meant for her until she figured out that the popular cheerleader and nemesis Veronica (Kristine Froseth) is behind it. She could’ve easily talked to Jamey about it but she continued the deception because it makes her ‘happy’ *rolls eyes* I know! I didn’t like it. Talk about cringe worthy.

Having watched Noah Centineo in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, my expectations were set pretty high. I thought the film started out good. I am starting to smile here and there until Sierra made one wrong decision after another. She was supposed to be the smart one for Kavinsky’s sake!

The whole catfishing thing I think is what bothers me the most if I’m being honest. It was borderline creepy and not funny at any point in the movie.

Allowing the whole thing to happen even though she figured out right away that it was all an accident was definitely not her character but I guess, deemed as a ‘loser’ by the popular kids – one can only take so much.

I also thought that her playing the victim at after everything was way off. I didn’t like the fact that she didn’t take full responsibility of what she did. It was just all too convenient for her.

This for me would’ve been a big hit similar To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before if written properly. There’s the execution but the story was on the losing end.

Director: Ian Samuels
Cast: Shannon Purser, RJ Cyler, Noah Centineo, Kristine Froseth, Will Peltz, Lea Thompson, Alan Ruck, Lorerra Devine, Chrissy Metz, Alice Lee, Giorgia Whigham, Mary Pat Gleason, Joey Morgan

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

Film Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

Lara Jean played by Lana Condor wrote love letters to all the boys she ever had a crush on since childhood but kept them in a box until her younger sister , Kitty stole the letters and sent them to the boys she apparently “loved.”

I’ve read a few chapters of the book a couple of years back but never had the energy to finish it not because it’s bad but it was just not my cup of tea. Now, after watching its film adaptation, it made me want to go back to the book and reread its entirety.

I’ve tremendously enjoyed the film. First, I loved the casting of Lana Condor as its protagonist Lara Jean. She’s very relatable and has a really good screen charisma. I could still recall when I was reading the book’s first few chapters, I was imagining Cho Chang (Katy Leung) playing Lara Jean. Lana was such a good choice for the role paired with Noah Centineo‘s super charming appeal. I so loved their chemistry!

Although Lara Jean’s character isn’t as dynamic as I expected her to be, I loved the subtle discovery of herself over the course of the film. As an aging millennial, I could easily relate to what she’s gone through what with her unrequited love and teenage longings.

The film may be full of clichés but it’s the good kind of clichés. It’s a movie targeted for the young ones if I may say but if you’re like me, you’d get a nice throwback feeling watching it.

Based on the novel of the same name by Jenny Han
Director: Susan Johnson
Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Israel Broussard, Trezzo Mahoro, King Bach, Joey Pachecho, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart, John Corbett, Madeleine Arthur, Emilija Baranac

Rating: 3/5

You can also read the book:

Film Review: Beach Rats (2017)

This film is like a Coldplay music video for me. It’s affecting and it’s melodious and by the end of it, it felt like you’re grasping for something. Beach Rats is so much like that. Its enigmatic lead Harris Dickinson is nothing short of spectacular playing a repressed youth from Brooklyn finding his sexuality and his place in the sun. It’s a rough environment for him and he’s got to fit the mold to survive.

The film was is so different from the young-adult LGBTQ+ stories with the usual arc of realizing their sexuality and coming out of the closet. In context it is almost the same but also different in the way Director Eliza Hittman explored the depth of a teenage longing for freedom, longing for identity and longing for self-expression.

The whole thing was like a loop with beautiful shots and grainy atmosphere. I enjoyed it immensely because I find it so realistic and Dickinson so effective. You can really see everything in his eyes – the fear, the excitement, his vulnerability. He’s someone to watch out for that’s for sure. I’m not sure if this would be most people’s cup of tea but it’s a good kind of film that doesn’t come very often in the genre.

Director: Eliza Hittman
Cast: Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge, Neal Huff, Nicole Flyus, Frank Hakaj

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars