Tag Archives: Film Review

Film Review: Lady Bird (2017)

The Dixie Chicks once asked the questions – who’s never left home? Who’s never struck out? I think that most of the time, it’ll come to a point in our lives that we are ‘Lady Bird.’ I said that because when we’re young, there’s always this feeling that our world is too small for us, that we wanted to explore what life has to offer, what this world is waiting to show us. We want something so much that we persevere to get them. Sometimes doing things that we didn’t think was wrong when we did it and ended up regretting but at the end of the day, we have this sense of fulfilment.

Lady Bird are those feelings so cleverly translated by Greta Gerwig into a film. This coming of age film so brilliantly led by Saoirse Ronan is a tale as old as time that just works in so many ways because that is basically everyone of us when we’re at the cusps of adulthood.

Ronan playing the eponymous role was as usual terrifically sublime as the rebellious daughter who won’t let anyone hinder her aspirations – not by her friends, her school advisors and definitely not by her mother played by the equally wonderful Laurie Metcalf. Sometimes, it’s almost painful to watch their interactions or more of altercations because there’s vulnerability in both of their characters that everyone would relate to. You’d probably point out, hey! That’s me with my daughter – ouch! or that is me and my mom/dad sometimes!  Ronan and Metcalf made their chemistry as mother and daughter so palpable that it resonated so much with so many people.

Gerwig tried to snatch a lot of wigs for this film and she did so fabulously! Lady Bird is a cult classic waiting to happen. I wouldn’t even be mad for a sequel!

At the 90th Academy Awards, Lady Bird has received five nominations that includes Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress in a Leading and Supporting Roles and Best Original Screenplay.

Director: Greta Gerwig

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges, Tracy Letts, Beanie Feldstein, Timothee Chalamet.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Film Review: Dunkirk (2017)

The film is a narrative of the successful evacuation of the Allied troops from Dunkirk as the Nazi Army advances to the French city. The battle of Dunkirk depicted one of the historical catalysts that made the people in Europe come together against the war propagated by the Nazi regime.

The Academy gave Nolan’s film eight nominations including his first directorial nod, Best Picture and Best Editing. The latter I wholeheartedly agree and would predict this film to win said category. As for Nolan’s vision, I feel that the whole thing was well-executed, the way he played with our emotions but didn’t really hit the mark of capturing the essence of the topic. This was Dunkirk glossed over. There was too much technicality, hence the great editing, but it lacks the gravitas of what really transpired in those days. Yes, we see them soldiers fighting for their lives to stay alive, to be able to survive and be with their loved ones but I somehow find it devoid of motivation.

I thought it was critically overrated but at the end of the day – I still enjoyed it more than the Darkest Hour so that at least should be a consolation. Despite the measly character development, I’d still give it a 3 star ratings because it’s Nolan being Nolan and on a technical spectrum, this is heaps better than most films from last year.

Dunkirk scored eight nominations at the 90th Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Production Design

Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance, Jack Lowden, Tom Glynn-Carney, Tom Hardy, Harry Styles
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Film Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

via impawards

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri for me felt like an examination of how deep the connection a mother has with her children and how far she’s willing to go for them. In the film, Frances McDormand’s character Mildred Hayes boldly put up three billboards that questions the authority for seemingly not doing anything about her daughter’s murder.

McDormand’s portrayal of grief – misplaced or not – that is not only seen but felt. It is so palpable on screen it makes you feel her anger and frustrations. All of her solo scenes are nothing short of sublime.


Then there’s Dixon – a xenophobe police officer in Ebbing. I’ve to admit that I was a bit uncomfortable with Sam Rockwell’s character. A portrayal which reminded me so much of his evil character ‘Wild Bill’ in The Green Mile. He was so effective here that his character angers me so much..

It’s funny that this picture so thoughtfully reminded me of the very divided America now under Donald Trump. Dixon (Rockwell) feels like a personification of what everything Donal Trump represents pre-reading the letter Chieft Willoughby have written for him.

This isn’t just about the fight of Mildred Hayes for justice. I want to believe that this goes deeper than that. This is a representation on apathy and how evil humans could get. Was I convinced by that ending? By Dixon’s redemption? Not quite, but as Chief Willoughby told Dixon thru a letter – all we need is love. Cringy but worth contemplating.

Director: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Caleb Landry Jones, Kerry Condon, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Željko Ivanek, Amanda Warren, Peter Dinklage, Kathryn Newton, John Hawkes, Samara Weaving, Clarke Peters, Brendan Sexton III
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The film received seven nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress for McDormand and Best Supporting Actor nominations for Harrelson and Rockwell at the 90th Academy Awards.

Film Review: Darkest Hour (2017)

Going into this film, I actually didn’t care about how factual the events were in it during the early days of World War II when Britain faces an invasion by the Nazi forces. I mean, I was just there to witness the so-called transformation of Gary Oldman into former British Prime Minister and historical Icon Winston Churchill and I am telling you, it was just mesmerizing. I didn’t see Gary Oldman in it and not because of the prosthetics and heavy make-up but because it felt that he really was Winston Churchill.

This one is going to be a quick review though, because I honestly didn’t get anything out of the story aside from Oldman’s stellar performance. I mean, let me put it bluntly – it was flat from start to finish. It doesnt have a defining moment (again) aside from Oldman himself. If not for him, I’d walk out midway through it.

It was nominated for six Academy Awards and surprisingly, also as Best Picture and it’s probably because of its technical merits.

Not really for me. 😌

Director: Joe Wright
Cast: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, Ronald Pickup, Stephen Dillane, Nicholas Jones, Samuel West, David Schofield, Richard Lumsden, Malcolm Storry
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

At the 90th Academy Awards, the film earned six nominations which includes Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup and Hairstyling and Best Costume Design.

Film Review: I, Tonya (2017)

I, Tonya follows the life of figure skater Tonya Harding and her involvement to the attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan in 1994. It features interviews of the characters in between sequences. Margot Robbie plays the titular role while Allison Janney plays her mother.

There was this one word I thought of after watching this film – riveting. Margot Robbie’s intense portrayal of Tonya Harding is a spectacle similar to the latter’s public persona. Robbie, Janey and Sebastian Stan who plays Harding’s husband did a triumvirate of sublime performances that should be honored and perceived to be their best work to date.

Allison Janey playing Tonya’s vindictive Mother was such a delight on screen. You’d hate her like you didn’t know you could hate someone as much. She’s always in the zone with every scene she was in and it was not the ‘in your face’ kind of thing but in a subtle yet very effective way. Her Oscar nod was a a truly deserved one.

I thought a lot of critics underrated Stan’s performance here but I loved how he reciprocated Robbie’s vulnerability and angst as a struggling figure skater wanting to get the recognition she believed she deserves. Plus, he is utterly charming!

And then we have the biggest revelation of the year – Margot Robbie. She obviously didn’t get an easy role right here but from the get-go, she soldiered on and was simply mesmerizing on screen. Margot Robbie’s phenomenal portrayal of Tonya Harding is one unforgettable performance that deserves more than one Oscar. In the movie, she is REALLY Tonya. The struggle, the pain, the success, the vulnerability and the burst of emotions she was able to convey on screen was a clear testament that Margot Robbie is a force that will only get stronger given the right roles.

Incredibly well-crafted, this movie deserves to be watch by more people and be inspired by this brave this brave Tonya they tried to portray. I’m not sure how accurate they portrayed the events and characters here but Margot Robbie made me like Harding right here in contrast to what I’ve read about her in the past and in her most recent interviews. Regardless, this movie just blew my mind!

Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson, Bobby Cannavale
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The film received three nominations: Best Actress for Margot Robbie, Best Supporting Actress for Janney and Best Editing at the 90th Academy Awards.

Movie Poster courtesy of impawards

Film Review: Pyotr495 (2016) – An LGBTQ Horror Short

I just discovered this short film by Blake Mawson a week ago while binge-watching short films on Youtube and I thought it’d be a great post to start 2018 since it’s very relevant to the horror that is happening in Russia with their anti-LGBT laws – not only in Russia, I supposed but still many parts of the world despite all of the breakthrough we’ve had in 2017 when it comes to bringing out equality.

Set one evening in present-day Moscow, 16 year-old Pyotr is baited by an ultra-nationalist group known for their violent abductions and attacks bolstered by Russia’s LGBT propaganda law, but Pyotr has a dangerous secret.

I do loved the symbolism used by Mawson to capture the mentality of this type of hate groups that baits gay people. While watching this 15-minute film, I got to thinking that there are indeed monsters in this world. It’s scary to think that at this time and age – there are still people / monsters like these.

I also loved the vibe of the whole film, that it reminded me so much of A Serbian Film with the character acting like a background in it, though probably less shocking. What a really clever and relevant film! I do hope that anyone who’s reading this will give this film their 15 minutes.

Directed by Blake Mawson
Cast: Alex Ozerov, Alanna Bale, Juliana Semenova, Max Rositsan

Highly Recommended!

Film Review: Baby Driver (2017)

Baby Driver reminds me so much of 21 and that’s probably because of the “Spacey” connection and the whole thing about professional felons with an innocent guy in the mix.

I do like the overall feel of the film – its funky music and alert pacing mirroring Baby’s best asset. What I didn’t quite like is its story in general. It was unrealistic with flimsy dialogues especially coming from Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx.

On the plus side, I thought Ansel was amazing considering the awful script. The rest are cliche at best. I don’t mind recommending this at all. It’s got lovely music and Ansel’s face.

Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Eiza Gonzalez, John Hamm, Jamie Foxx, John Bernthal
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Film Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nathan Mack, Adrian Schiller, Hattie Morahan, Gerard Horan, Zoe Rainey, Henry Garrett, Harriet Jones

Beauty and the Beast in 3D is as magnificent as its grandiose  cast that includes Sir Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Luke Evans and its main stars Dan Stevens and Emma Watson among others.

I don’t think there’s even a doubt about Emma Watson’s star-power after the weekend success of the live-action remake of one of the most beloved Disney animations Beauty and the Beast where she played the iconic role of Belle – the provincial lass who felt too confined in her small-minded-small town who fell in love with a cursed prince.

The film just raked in $350M worlwide since its March 16 release despite controversies involving LeFou’s “gay” character (which is totally a non-issue to begin with so to you bigoted piece of shits – Disney doesn’t need your money – kbye!)

I’ve read a tweet last week that says, a new generation is going to forget Emma playing Hermionie because of Beauty and the Beast.

If I’m being quite honest,I think it’s going to be the exact opposite. Emma  has been immortalized by the Harry Potter franchise as the dorky, know-it-all  Hermionie and with Watson playing Belle and meeting every expecations, it solidifies her star-power that trandscends generation. So she’s gonna be remembered for sure playing the two equally iconic roles.

Kids and kids-alike will get a kick out of its fun, funny and endearing characters and songs that will remind them so much of their childhood. I was actually on the verge of tears when Mrs. Potts started singing the theme of the movie during Belle and the Beast’ romantic dance.

The lovely and well-detailed faithfulness of this adaptation from its original animation is what made the film even more special. The magic stayed with  Condon’s fresh new take and fresh new songs from Alan Menken and TIm Rice that includes  “How Does A Moment Last Forever,” heard at the beginning of the movie being sung/hum by Maurice (Kevin Kline), Belle’s father and during the end-credits belted by none other than, Celine Dion.

From the moment Watson appeared on screen, I just knew that it’s gonna be as epic as its trailer. Beauty and the Beast did not disappoint one bit. It was pleasing to the eye, lovely to the ears and just a full-on heartwarming movie that will make you believe in the power of true love – Disney style!

Rating: Perfect 10

movie poster via impawards

Film Review: Sakaling Hindi Makarating (2017)

sakaling-di-makarating-posterAfter watching Ice Idanan’s Sakaling Di Makarating last weekend, I was on the fence about it being a rip-off of “That Thing Called Tadhana” or perhaps just ‘a way better storytelling’ ala-Before Sunrise trilogy which ‘Tadhana” obviously tried to emulate. What I didn’t consider is the message within the film. Sakaling Di Makarating in comparison to the profanity-laden “Tadhana” has a much deeper message and obviously is more aesthetically pleasing.

What initially enticed me to watch the film is that it features the diverse beauty of the Philippines. Its beautiful landscapes being one of the focal points of the story should be a fantastic watch for a traveler like myself yeah? Then I found out that Alessandra de Rossi will star in it and I was absolutely sold! I knew I have to see this on the big screen.

A series of mysterious hand-illustrated postcards take a young woman on a journey throughout the Philippines in search of its anonymous writer.

The film didn’t disappoint with its aesthetic value. It felt like you’re traveling with Cielo (de Rossi) here – discovering the beauty of this tropical country whilst accompanying Cielo on her search for M.


Cielo’s journey is a way for her to alleviate her pain and to find the answers to the many whys of her failed relationship. Cielo for all her strength is only human though. She’s in the process of grieving and trying to decipher what her next move would be. Her journey to finding the postcard sender, M, is her journey to finding herself again. Some of us call it soul searching but more than anything else, I’d like to think that it’s finding a reason to live again. The places she’s been to, I’d like to think, made her realize that there’s so much more to life.

The storyline, however, felt a bit disjointed for me. It’s like I’m watching a movie within a movie, rather it felt like watching two films altogether. The connection between the first and the latter part of the film was startlingly obvious but it felt forced. Good thing, the kid who played Sol (Teri Malvar) is an absolute joy to watch! When the spotlight was focused on her, ‘girl just kick some ass like no other.


I have to be honest though. I actually enjoyed the latter part of the film more. The beginning which I find a bit mechanical was too reminiscent of ‘That Thing Called Tadhana.’ The dialogue were a bit off and Paul’s character was unnecessary in my opinion. The short affair involving Manuel (JC Santos) was a rather welcome distraction from the bleak narrative of the first half of the film. The parallelism of their scenes in connection to M at the latter part was just too clever! I just loved how so apt it was. I’m not sure if it’s just me who thought of it but if you think about it, there’s a rather eerie similarity.


Overall, this film was able to deliver a solid ending. The story may or may not work with many but there’s a chance for it to have a sequel. I’d love for it to have a sequel! I want a storyline with more of Paul in it. Maybe, I’m just not giving him a chance. The story could be everybody’s story who struggle not only with their love life but simply every day and are looking for an escape. The film won’t fix your problems but it will inspire you to go out there. Have the courage to search for what you’re looking for and as corny as it may sound, you have to remember that you only live once…

Director: Ice Idanan
Cast: Alessandra de Rossi, Teri Malvar, JC Santos, Pepe Herrera

Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Film Review: La La Land (2016)

la-la-land-posterSo how do I even start with this one without spoiling it too much for you guys? I’ve been meaning to write a review after watching it last weekend but I’m still at that point where I’m trying to digest every scene, every moment of Mia and Sebastian together and everything that makes it one of the best films from last year.

Okay, so let’s start with the stars of the film.

emma-stoneEmma Stone here is flawless. There’s nothing I’d change about her in this film. It’s like watching a beauty pageant contestant on stage performing flawlessly for her audience to win the crown. Emma plays a ‘struggling’ actress here who knows that she’s destined to play A-lister roles for the camera and her struggles to make it into the city of stars is so transparent in her luminous depiction which I’m pretty sure will resonate with everyone of us dreaming – maybe not of the same thing – to be that something or someone.

Ryan Gosling meanwhile plays a passionate Jazz musician whose dream is to own a Jazz club in order to keep the musical genre alive. It all sounds very simple but in context it is a rather heartbreaking realization that indeed, jazz is dying and we need the likes of Sebastian in the real world to save it! Ryan played his role so
convincingly – playing the piano and dancing with vigor – that you’d fall in love with him all over again the way you fell for Noah in the Notebook. Ryan Gosling here without question cemented his status as a true ARTIST.


As for the story, it reminded me a bit of Satine and Christian’s love affair in Moulin Rouge what with both of them chasing their dreams and having to sacrifice love in the process.

There’s nothing extraordinarily new in it but there’s that surprising element of the storyline’s effectiveness. The storytelling will affect you. It will make you contemplate about your abandoned dreams and will make you weep at some point. I know I did and I cannot really explain why it affected me so much. Isn’t that crazy?


Perhaps, I was thinking of all the things we really have to let go in life in order for us to achieve something? I was asking myself tho, how worth is it to sacrifice one precious thing in exchange of similarly precious something? How do you weigh things out? I warned you that this may contain spoilers but there’s a lot of things to think about in this film – things that will make you stop, wander, and look back. Well, aside from the fantastic song and dance numbers, this film is just up there which will make you think that sometimes in life, we just have to keep dreaming. It’s free anyway!

Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars!