Films watched 2011

I promised myself that I'd watch lots of films this year, since I wanted to be stimulated and inspired, and well, distracted. Movies are a great escape, and can serve as food for thought. Though they depict less than perfect worlds, nothing beats sitting in a dark room and just taking in the controlled chaos of a movie. 2011, here I come!
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1.
Prozac Nation (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A young woman struggles with depression during her first year at Harvard. (95 mins.)
“ Actually watched this last year, during my first semester in my 2nd year in college. This movie was based on Lizzie Wurtzel's infamous memoir of the same title. It's about depression, it's about being young and being lost in a sea of privilege--it's a statement to the world about how you can have it all (go to Harvard, live in New York, get published in major magazines, win prizes, have a boyfriend) and still be deeply mired in paralysis.

NOTE--I have NOT finished this movie yet. Will complete this description once I do.
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Finished the movie as of September 2012. More than a year has lapsed and a lot has changed in my life, but the moods and issues that weave through Lizzie Wurtzel still haunts me. The movie is not as detailed nor as revelatory as the book. In the book, Lizzie delves into the mental hysteria and hopelessness that one experiences with depression; the film deals with the emotional and relational turmoil that explodes out of the condition: broken relationships with family, problems with intimacy, a deep longing for something else. The film runs like a one-act play: sparse sets, heavy dialogue, sparse characters (we merely see Lizzie's mother, father, and grandparents, Ruby her bestfriend, Rafe her boyfriend, intimate moments with her psychiatrist, etc). It's a deeply disturbing scenario in a sense that Lizzie just has to hold on for her dear life through only a couple of people (though those who love her deeply). Prozac Nation is recommended viewing, only for the fact that it can shed light on the debilitating illness.

Highlight: Christina Ricci's Oscar-worthy performance. Did not realize how beautiful and radiant she looked at twenty. A childish, feline sex appeal, beautiful almond eyes, cherry lips, the skin, the body. Of course what stands out ultimately is her acting talent.

Rating: 7.5/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
2.
Eat Pray Love (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
A married woman realizes how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction. After a painful divorce, she takes off on a round-the-world journey to "find herself". (133 mins.)
Director: Ryan Murphy
“ I have this weird inclination to watch movies with female protagonists lost in a confusing world--privileged, white, and JUST UNHAPPY (Prozac Nation please). So Eat Pray Love was quite a predictable choice for me, since I'm a sucker for feel-good travel films that grapple with the meaning of life and that kind of stuff.

This film is about Liz (hello Prozac Nation 2.0, jk) Gilbert, an NYU graduate who's a well-paid writer discontent with her marriage and basically her life, so she takes on a revolutionary personal journey to 'find herself' and be at peace. So she eats with gusto in Rome, goes to a sacred temple in India, and goes to Bali.

SO FAR I have not finished this film because the DVD I bought had a weird defect halfway through the movie (when Liz was in India) Will complete this description once I finish the movie.

_______
Okay, finished this film FINALLY (watched the Director's Cut). The movie, as expected, was cutesy-girly--perfect for women in their 30s/40s looking to find inspiration by observing a white woman DO IT--have sex/make out with men, eat a lot without feeling guilty, and meditate.

What made this movie a little less boring for me was the little moments in every locale. "Less boring", because in essence, the book/film is a self-indulgent tale. Yes, there's no conflict really--just a woman torn from herself, lost and fazed.

In Italy, it was surely the food moments. Eating pizza in Naples and pasta in Rome seems like a dream. Eating a full-course meal with new-found friends a very, very good dream.

In India, it was the wedding dance. Liz looks back on her own wedding, and we see the stark contrast between a Western ceremony and an Indian/non-Western one. Liz's was marked by monochrome, the Indian wedding by a blast of people, vibrant colors, sounds, smells, objects, rituals, etc.

In Bali, it was the rural spirit. The coconut trees, the rice paddies, the sun, the beaches, all reminded me of home. And oh yeah, the guy playing the drums and who stripped naked on the beach!
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This film also gave me some food for thought. Thoughts on love, family, "truth", balance, etc.:

"Balance in life is power." -- Ketut

"Believe in love again." -- Richard from Texas
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Finally, it's so fascinating to me how white / caucasian people just love to travel and are drawn to places like India, Indonesia, etc. (Third World countries, lots of heat, lots of dirt, "spirituality"). Maybe it's because it's so different from what they've grown up with, and all they need is to separate themselves from the corporate, hygienic culture of the West to "find themselves"

And oh my, I didn't know Ryan Murphy directed and wrote the screenplay for this. It shows--the movie is very gay (exotic cultures, shirtless men, all that jazz).

RATING: 7/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
3.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
After John Nash, a brilliant but asocial mathematician, accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn for the nightmarish. (135 mins.)
Director: Ron Howard
“ [Yet another film I haven't finished watching--to be completed]

So I get to watch this film for general psychology class--and I am STUNNED by just how gorgeous this film is. Really. I did not expect this film to get at me like it did--the way it opened in pitch-dark with a HAUNTING film score. I was that amazed.

This is the story of John Nash--a modern mathematical genius almost comparable to Newton--who's socially awkward and just...weird, but redeems himself because he is absolutely brilliant in math. He goes to Princeton, MIT, Harvard because his mind is in-demand, and is also recruited by the US Military (this was the height of the USSR-USA rivalry, I think). This is a movie about a genius, 'trapped' in his brilliance, and becomes a chased-after man, dangerous in his affairs, this is about a man who loves....
[description to be completed]

_____

FINALLY done watching the movie, and I am satisfied. I won't deny that this is a typical Hollywood production--why wouldn't it end with him winning the NOBEL PRIZE? Nevertheless, nothing takes away from the emotional core of the film, and that is John Nash's journey through madness, love and despair.

John Nash, you see, is not an ordinary man. He sees patterns in numbers, patterns in everyday things. Someone like him is bound to get a little bit loose in some areas of life. Schizophrenia was his Achilles heel--making him lose his mind in critical points of his life, threatening the relationships he's had.

"A Beautiful Mind" is about strength, and picking up the pieces and carrying on no matter how dark it may be on the inside. One like really struck a chord on me, spoken by Nash in the movie: "Why do we do?" Alicia replies that it's a way for people to find meaning in their lives...

And that's what I've always wondered. Why do we do things, plod, or run through day by day? I guess it's all for life and love. What a beautiful work!

----
NOTE: I seem to be gravitating towards films / books who have mentally disturbed protagonists (Black Swan, this, Prozac Nation). Uhhh.

RATING: 8.75/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
4.
Black Swan (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A committed dancer wins the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" only to find herself struggling to maintain her sanity. (108 mins.)
“ What is madness? What is art? How does it feel like to be so engrossed and on the brink of obsession for your passion that you just can't think of anything else? How does it feel to suffer for your art--to be perfect for your art?

'Black Swan', by ingenue director Darren Aronofsky, examines these questions with such a ferocious and feminine intensity that just left me breathless and literally, screaming like a girl.

This is modern New York, in a competitive dance company where perfection is required, and work is demanding. Nina Sayers is the new kid on the block--refined, sheltered, "frigid"--and fully immersed in her ballet work. Her world, as seen in the film, is the ballet studio, her room, her apartment and nothing else to distract her. Dedication is required, and she delivers in that department.

But what if perfection is not the only criteria? What about sex, seduction and letting go? As her director Leroy tells her: Perfection is also about letting go.

And so her fears take on the form of other women--her mother, Beth, the star she replaced, and Lily--liberated, no-care Lily. Nina is agitated, afraid to lose the thing she wants the most, and that is glory in her art.

And because of this agitation, obsession, passion--whatever you call it, Nina becomes a victim of her own mind, her own fears and gradually then quickly degenerates into a metaphorical black swan--dark, thrilling, seductive.

If Black Swan can teach us anything, it's about the how the cogent force of madness can transform us into haunting, "perfect", beautiful things, but also lead is into death (see: ending).

RATING: 9.9/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
5.
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (2009 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Biography of Ben Carson who grew up to be Dr. Ben Carson, a world famous neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins. (86 mins.)
Director: Thomas Carter
“ I watched this movie accidentally, since the TV had HBO on the whole night. It was awesome, and I am glad that I got to watch it at the beginning. I can relate to this movie in so many ways--especially in the protagonist's journey as a young boy.

There's so many inspiring quotes in this movie, especially coming from Ben's mother.

This movie touched me because at its core, it's all about claiming victory over something initially thought of as overpowering--poverty, ignorance, prejudice and discrimination, lack of education, etc. In the end, Ben defies everything that put him at a disadvantage compared and succeeds in his dreams to become a doctor. Not only does he succeed and exceed all expectations (being highest in his class at Yale, excelling over his white classmates), he also becomes a powerful instrument for the healing of broken creatures. He becomes renowned as a pediatric surgeon, bringing back to normalcy babies/children with debilitating conditions.

All of this he attributes to the power of God, and amidst all trials, he comes out with a strength that's hard to ignore.

RATING: 7.5/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
6.
Easy A (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A clean-cut high school student relies on the school's rumor mill to advance her social and financial standing. (92 mins.)
Director: Will Gluck
“ I definitely expected 'Easy A' to be at the level of 'Mean Girls' or 'Clueless', and since a lot of my peers were raving or had something to say about it I decided to watch it one random evening.

All in all, it is an okay movie. Not too terrible writing, pacing and acting. Adolescent themes such as homosexuality, fitting in, popularity, sex in general and universal issues like gossip, double standards in society, etc. pop up.

If there's one thing "Easy A" had to offer, it was Emma Stone in her quirky girly glory. She's the one who moves this story forward and manages to carve a certain personality for the film--sexy but cute but not slutty. To some degree Emma's character SHOULD be labeled slutty. Uh, she spreads a rumor that she sleeps with EVERYONE. And with that, the character and the story annoys me a bit--advice: don't spread rumors about yourself if you don't want to be miserable.

Oh, I loved the part with Lisa Kudrow's character (the guidance counselor) having an affair with Cam Gigandet's character and having herpes! PRICELESS!

RATING 7.5/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
7.
The 6th Day (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Futuristic action about a man who meets a clone of himself and stumbles into a grand conspiracy about clones taking over the world. (123 mins.)
“ Watched this on a random day on HBO because I had nothing to do. It was okay. Typical action/thriller/sci-fi film, though what sets it apart for me is the fact that it tackled genetic manipulation in cloning in a 'cool' outlandish way. I mean really--re-constructing a human in a matter of hours? If science really ruled in this film, then it would take much more than that.

But anyway, watching the film led me onto more philosophical ideas: the desire for immortality, human identity and self, morality (Is it really okay to clone someone in the brink of death just because you want him/her to live on?), death and natural processes, etc. It's a lot of stuff to think about, once you get past the sci-fi gloss of it all.

RATING: 7/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
8.
Psycho (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A Phoenix secretary steals $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. (109 mins.)
“ OH EM GEE I EFFING LOVE THIS FILM! Just watched it now (on an early Sunday morning -- weird, watching this kind of movie on a Sunday morning.

It's amazing how this 1960 film still manages to shock 50 years after (it just shows how good it is). By employing the classic techniques of musical score (Bernard Hermann is amazing), framing, and plot twists, "Psycho" is a cinematic tour de force.

The beginning plays out as a run-of-the-mill scenario, then eventually develops to become an unflinching and unnerving story when the female lead (Janet Leigh) becomes a victim of a mysterious woman (or man?)

The twist at the end (Norman Bates is actually the killer and he has a personality disorder!) left me really creeped out. Though predictable, it is stunningly effective. There are actually four iconic scenes in the film: the shower scene, the staircase scene where the detective gets killed instantly, the scene where we see Norman Bates in the wig (effing crazy) and the last scene where Norman just stares into the screen.

Alfred Hitchcock is a genius.

RATING: 8.9/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
9.
Love & Other Drugs (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A young woman suffering from Parkinson's befriends a drug rep working for Pfizer in 1990s Pittsburgh. (112 mins.)
Director: Edward Zwick
“ Watched this film with my HS friends on a random Friday. Was expecting a cutesy rom-com but hell, this is a little bit different than that. Besides the actual cutesy romance and comedy, it has lots of sex and nudity and swearing. Any person planning to watch this with his/her mom/dad/rabbi/priest should really scrap the idea and watch it ALONE or with like-minded peers. 'Cause Jake G and Anne just bare it all--butt, chest, legs, every little thang.

This is obviously a very mainstream Hollywood product. Two A minus-list stars cast in a movie with in-your-face product placement (Pfizer, Prozac, Zoloft)--but eh, it's a good flick to pass the time by. It's very predictable (Surprise! They love each other so much? No way!).

What was more interesting, to me anyway, was how the film incorporated some medical stuff in here--like how the drug boom developed in the mid-90s, the actual "business" of the pharma industry and how it recruits ambitious young people to sell its products, the politics of the sales-rep/doctor relationship, and lastly, Parkinson's disease.

Anne's character undergoes a pretty bad degenerative state in the film and we see as an audience how this affects her relationship with Jake's character. Just goes to show how something so biological/medical can have interesting effects on ones emotional/social state. (Also, it gave me a glimpse into what kind of people I might be working with someday. Woah)

RATING: 7/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
10.
The Butterfly Effect (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Evan Treborn suffers blackouts during significant events of his life. As he grows up, he finds a way to remember these lost memories and a supernatural way to alter his life by reading his journal. (113 mins.)
“ Okay, I'm watching this in Psychology class and started 15 minutes (I think) through the movie and didn't finish it yet so I can't make a complete review.

This movie is a *beep* That's the word used to describe that horrible excuse of a movie 'Inception' but I think it applies more appropriately to this. It's total, out-there, in-your-face psychological drama. You're a witness to Evan's (Ashton Kutcher)'s growth as a young boy then a young man, being a victim of blackouts, strange dreams, alternating plots, horrible people.

You see, Evan was a victim of sexual abuse. As a man, this has left him broken and looking for answers...

By the way, I kinda hated the beginning (the scenes with Evan at 7 and 13) because it was just really confusing and jarring. However it's a good thing I'm starting to get engrossed in 20-year-old Evan's story because he's looking back at his past trying to resolve his deep-set issues.

More to come.
---------- ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
11.
Limitless (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
With the help of a mysterious pill that enables the user to access 100 percent of his brain abilities, a struggling writer becomes a financial wizard, but it also puts him in a new world with lots of dangers. (105 mins.)
Director: Neil Burger
“ "Limitless" is a fresh, modern take on the Icarus myth--the one where you push your boundaries too much ("fly higher and higher") until you bear the consequences. Except in this film, the main character, after all the thriller shebang, is rewarded for his ambitious albeit selfish actions.

Who is the main character? He's everyone of us--us living in the "real world", living lives by default, in monochrome. The lead symbolizes who we are, and the man he is transformed to after he takes that lethal pill NZT is what many of us want to be. Who wouldn't?

Choose a life of being broke and not being able to pay the rent, or of traveling exotic beaches, driving fast cars, making huge amounts of money, getting anything you want... Humans are humans, and most of us would take the chance to have everything we desire and much more.

Of course, the little "limitless" pill is the center of all the drama here. It's the magic potion, the fuel that drives the main character in all his motivation, focus and scarily, power. We see him learning foreign languages in a matter of days, making millions in weeks. In the end we see him running for political office.

Worth it? Perhaps--except there ARE some dangerous side effects, physically and socially. Your body gets really weird. You die, sometimes. You get sick when you withdraw from the pill.

The lead bypasses that in the end, though going through many, many hoops before becoming the "ultimately" successful, well-bred, rich, handsome man that he is.

Truly, limitless.

PS. Great visual impact.

RATING: 8.5/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
12.
Serendipity (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A couple reunite years after the night they first met, fell in love, and separated, convinced that one day they'd end up together. (90 mins.)
Director: Peter Chelsom
“ Is destiny real? Or is it our choices that determine our life and who we love? This movie, starring the both gorgeous Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack. Set in modern New York, "Serendipity" examines the absurdity of life, its "mess", and its difficult twists and turns. In essence, the movie speaks to us about love, and how people, no matter how righteous, can go reckless--blinded by its promises of a lifetime of fulfillment.

The movie leaves you questioning: Is life merely a planned existence? After all, the scenarios we see the main characters go through seem to be a little too...intertwined to be coincidences.

Never mind--the ending shows us that it kinda is. You lay on an empty skating rink and then your true love comes to you just like *that*. But oh, you still have to get stressed out and do an Amazing Race-like performance before you get to her/him.

Rating: 7.5/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
13.
A Little Thing Called Love (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Life of a 14 year old girl Nam, who falls in love with her senior of tenth grade P'Shone and tries desperately to win his attention. (118 mins.)
“ P'Shone is the star jock of his high school. Nam, the ugly dark girl and the protagonist of this story, naturally falls in love with the athletic, handsome boy.

We all know this story. It's been told a million times in a countless different ways, yet it never loses its potency to tug at the hearts of every adolescent-at-heart. The "invisible" protagonist desiring the socially loved prince/princess is a myth for the ages--and this Thai movie delivers another take on that.

The movie is set in high school--yes, the the immemorial hotbed of stories like this. Who could forget their high school infatuations?

The "ugly" lead, Nam, wants P'Shone so bad that she does everything to capture his attention. She goes to great lengths to improve herself--from whitening her skin to becoming a drum major. As the story progresses, we realizes that P'Shone was already in love with Nam long before she became "beautiful." We see empathize for both characters.

Basically, "A Little Thing..." encapsulates the madness that we go as we experience the amazing highs and lows of love. It's crazy. Crazy, that you would wait 9 years just for the person you love to reciprocate how you feel.

Highlights: Mario Maurer, the cheesiness of it all

Rating: 7.1/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
14.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life. (126 mins.)
Director: Gus Van Sant
“ How exactly would you live your life if you had an extremely superior mathematical mind--rivaling that of an MIT professor? For Will Hunting, it's working in construction and just being a "normal" Southie. But Gerry Lambeau, a Fields medalist and the man who notices Will's talent by accident, believes in Will more than Will himself--and will do anything to pull the talented boy out of the depths of almost-poverty in urban Boston, with the help of washed-out psychology prof Sean Maguire.

BRILLIANT. Get out there, love, take the risk, DO NOT BE AFRAID to take the first step.

Rating: 8.999/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
15.
No Strings Attached (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A guy and girl try to keep their relationship strictly physical, but it's not long before they learn that they want something more. (108 mins.)
Director: Ivan Reitman
“ What do you get when you pair up an overrated douche-y actor with an Oscar-winning actress in an obviously contrived romantic comedy? A silly product that runs for an hour and a half and that makes ka-ching ka-ching. This movie is so mainstream it hurts. It had its moments, but in the end, it's nothing more than a mindless, sex-filled tale. It's about love, hurt, and forgiveness--three things that never go away in our lives.

Rating 6.1/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
16.
(500) Days of Summer (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
An offbeat romantic comedy about a woman who doesn't believe true love exists, and the young man who falls for her. (95 mins.)
Director: Marc Webb
“ A perfect postcard ode to the City of Angels, (500) Days of Summer is the epitome of a postmodern love story, where there are no rules, being hurt can only mean being better in the end. But more than being a love story, 500 Days is about finding yourself--finding yourself in other people, finding yourself getting lost in a sea of questions whether "fate" is real or not. This is what life is about, and this movie gave a damn good glimpse of it.

Rating: 8.889999/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
17.
The Wrestler (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A faded professional wrestler must retire, but finds his quest for a new life outside the ring a dispiriting struggle. (109 mins.)
“ What do you call the testosterone-filled counterpart of 'Black Swan'? 'The Wrestler'. In this Aronofsky opus, we witness the same ordeal Nina Sayers had to go through, but this time in the geography and body of an aging wrestler--Randy, Robin, 'Ram the Man', or whatever. 'The Wrestler' is pure grit--it defines the true spirit of an invisible society--those marginalized out of a world where youth and luster reign, where they are left to pick up the remaining pieces of their lives.

Rating: 8.7/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
18.
Never Let Me Go (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The lives of three friends, from their early school days into young adulthood. (103 mins.)
Director: Mark Romanek
“ In a parallel universe where select children are prepared to live a life of donating organs under the British National Donor Programme, we see a reflection of our humanity. Even in artificially cultured bodies--humans, in every way possible, are determined to love: even if closed off from the "real world", even if protected from everything that might hurt them. 'Never Let Me Go' tells us that one great thing about us, and that is we are willing to sacrifice who we are for something greater than ourselves.

Rating: 8.2/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
19.
127 Hours (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
An adventurous mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive. (94 mins.)
Director: Danny Boyle
“ The more sinister, more British counterpart of 'The Wrestler', '127 Hours' is a tour de force...of nature. James Franco, in his most gut-wrenching (almost literally) work, shows to us the visceral aspects of survival, and how much we put everything on the line just to live and nothing else. '127 Hours' is a brilliant exposition of what are the bare essentials of humanity--that is: love, memories of the little things, family, friends...

Oh, and that amputating scene was totally gross.

Rating: 8.1/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
20.
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A hapless young Viking who aspires to hunt dragons, becomes the unlikely friend of a young dragon himself, and learns there may be more to the creatures than he assumed. (98 mins.)
“ Featuring the (very distinct) voices of Jay Baruchel and Gerald Butler, 'How To Train Your Dragon' is a Dreamworks film done right. Set in macho medieval era of the Vikings, this movie tells of a loser-ish teenager named Hiccup and how his being different (read: having compassion for animals!) from all the other Vikings catapults him into being sort of a dragon-master and redeemer of the village-kingdom of Berk. Loved the scenes between him and his cute Night Fury dragon, Toothless. A nice story about staying true to your values, and showing respect for all beings.

Rating: 8.05/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
21.
The Kite Runner (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
After spending years in California, Amir returns to his homeland in Afghanistan to help his old friend Hassan, whose son is in trouble. (128 mins.)
Director: Marc Forster
“ I cried during one scene in this movie--the one where adult Amir reads a letter from his childhood friend Hassan, showing that their lives have been unraveled and can never go back to the way it was. "The Kite Runner" is a beautiful story of friendship, and how it can make people do things beyond them--sacrificing one's dignity, sacrificing one's life (going through a Taliban camp!). It tells of that timeless quality of human relationships, amidst the turbulence of political and social forces.

Rating: 8.3/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
22.
The King's Speech (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The story of King George VI of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it. (118 mins.)
Director: Tom Hooper
“ Set in 1930s Britain right before the ravage of the Second World War, "The King's Speech", behind its historical context, is a look into a deeply personal journey of a man forced into national spotlight--his slow transformation from a literally mumbling "extra" of family royalty, to a STILL mumbling, but more persistent "King." A tad bit overrated for my taste, "The King's Speech" still delivers. Highlight: Geoffrey Rush's performance. First time I noticed he's real cute. And, Michael Gambon and Timothy Spall and Helena Bonham-Carter! (Harry Potter yay)

Rating: 7.5/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
23.
Water for Elephants (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Set in the 1930s, a former veterinary student takes a job in a traveling circus and falls in love with the ringmaster's wife. (120 mins.)
 
24.
She's Out of My League (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
An average Joe meets the perfect woman, but his lack of confidence and the influence of his friends and family begin to pick away at the relationship. (104 mins.)
Director: Jim Field Smith
“ Okay, she's not really a 10, and he's not really a 5 (looking back watching the movie, I thought the character of the hot girl was really...boring). But what I got out of this was a (quoting Jay Baruchel) a "tremendous" lesson: You really need to love yourself, and see the greatness and awesomeness and 10-worthiness of yourself before other people love you. We are all 'ten's, and we're wasting our lives thinking otherwise.

Rating: 6.5/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
25.
Green Lantern (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
Reckless test pilot Hal Jordan is granted an alien ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers that inducts him into an intergalactic police force, the Green Lantern Corps. (114 mins.)
Director: Martin Campbell
“ Watched this with my mom and half-sister. Chose to watch this 'cause I've been feeling friendly towards mainstream pop fluff movies. I honestly didn't expect anything "OMG AWESOME," so I was pleasantly surprised with the whole motif of the movie--the whole concept of "everything is energy" and "in order to be a hero, YOU MUST HAVE NO FEAR" and that "WILL" matters. That's what I liked about it. Cool CGI too. Love the alien worlds. Liked Blake Lively's look. And what more can I say 'bout my man Peter? :>

Rating: 7.7/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
26.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets. (154 mins.)
Director: Michael Bay
“ Sometimes, you have to give credit to where it is due: Transformers 3 and the whole Michael Bay crew has managed to screw history and make its own version of the 1960s moon mission--complete with robot aliens and cheesy movie music. This piece of fluff easily combines commerce, entertainment, history, and some really good imagination and guess what? Ka-ching ka-ching. Doesn't change the fact that this film is CRAP. UTTER CRAP.
Mom and sis were there to watch too :)

Rating: 3/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
27.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Harry, Ron and Hermione search for Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes in their effort to destroy the Dark Lord as the final battle rages on at Hogwarts. (130 mins.)
Director: David Yates
“ It's official: my childhood is over. Done. What has defined half of my life, what has nourished my creatively and intellectually throughout the years marks its final bow with this film. In the ten-year stretch in the production of the fantasy books and films, I've grown up with Harry and so many ways and it's incredibly bittersweet that I have to say goodbye to Harry, Ron and Hermione. They've been the stuff of my book reports, and now the stuff of my life. May the future generations re-discover Rowling's amazing work through these (albeit a bit mediocre but iconic!) films.

Rating: 8.0/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
28.
The Woman in the Septic Tank (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Jocelyn, Rainier, and Bingbong are three film school graduates who are dead set on making an Oscar-worthy film... (87 mins.)
“ Babae sa Septic Tank may be the shining moment of Filipino indie cinema. The much-decorated film of the 2011 Cinemalaya, "Babae" is carried by its very witty, postmodern script. It doesn't hurt that the JM de Guzman and Kean Cipriano capture perfectly what it's like to be upper-middle-class+urbanite+socially aware "artiste". "Babae" pokes fun and in the process gives a resounding commentary on the state of independent film, and a good rubbing it in to its image-makers. Highlight: EUGENE DOMINGO. In all her scenes. Amazing.

Rating: 8.8/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
29.
Bad Teacher (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
A lazy, incompetent middle school teacher who hates her job, her students, and her co-workers is forced to return to teaching to make enough money for breast implants after her wealthy fiancé dumps her. (92 mins.)
Director: Jake Kasdan
“ What do you get when you mix in an aging (but still ravishing) Cameron Diaz, her former lover, a movie script, and lots of money? This movie. "Bad Teacher" is a really lame excuse for an all-out, no-holds-barred comedy, and is obviously a ploy, using Diaz's selling power, to bring in the bucks. Full of adult innuendo and blatant sexual references (office sex, jerking off, erections, nude pics, BJs, etc.)--I finished the movie shocked, but at least mildly entertained.

Rating: 6.9/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
30.
My Amnesia Girl (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Apollo wants to redeem himself to Irene, a girl who he leaves on the day of their wedding, but a big problem occurs, Irene has amnesia. (110 mins.)
“ Star Cinema films, and Filipino films in general, hasn't really catered to the A+B class until probably 5 years ago (I think), and it's reached critical mass with this film. I remember my friends quoting so much of the dialogue on their Facebook Walls. What IS special about this film? It's about love--a very universal theme. It's about being hurt, and ultimately, about forgiving. I detest the film's corniness, but whatever floats the Filipino viewer's boat :p

Highlights: JM de Guzman+Ketchup Eusebio+Toni G's pretiness

Rating: 6.0/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
31.
Colombiana (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A young woman, after witnessing her parents' murder as a child in Bogota, grows up to be a stone-cold assassin. (108 mins.)
Director: Olivier Megaton
“ 'Colombiana' is the movie I've been waiting for my whole life and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time when all I've felt is *beep* Cataleya--the hard-hitting, fearless and lithe protagonist of this slick little French Hollywood product--is who I want to be. Damn. That was funny to write. But no, really. Anonymous, deadly, dramatic, sexy, smart, and with Michael Vartan in her arms. And I've always fantasized toting a gun in front of bad people.

Rating: 9.9/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
32.
Zombadings 1: Patayin sa shokot si Remington (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
Remington is in love with Hannah but she finds him lazy and uncouth. Then he starts to change. Suddenly he is becoming neater... (96 mins.)
Director: Jade Castro
“ Mart Escudero is the kind of actor that surprises you. I remember his days in Starstruck and wondering whether he had any acting talent, well, 'Zombadings' is the clear, fabulous answer. He is pretty much amazing--perfecting to a tee the modern gayspeak that epitomizes the "community"'s unique subculture. 'Zombadings' has enabled Pinoy cinema to reach critical mass--this is now a time when the middle-class actually like to watch local films--and that is no small feat. Oh, and Kerbie Zamora, who plays Jigs, is GORGEOUS. Loved the staircase scene.
Sequel, please?

Rating: 8.0/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
33.
Friends with Benefits (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
While trying to avoid the clichés of Hollywood romantic comedies, Dylan Harper and Jamie Rellis soon discover however that adding the act of sex to their friendship does lead to complications. (109 mins.)
Director: Will Gluck
“ It's No Strings Attached all over again. Put a douche-y looking guy and a really pretty girl+commercial, read: cliche, script+New York City=every other movie in the past 5 years.
The movie IS fun though, a bit tongue-and-cheek, and obviously for the young and vigorous ones.

Rating: 4/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
34.
Sex and the City 2 (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.3/10 X  
While wrestling with the pressures of life, love, and work in Manhattan, Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte join Samantha for a trip to Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), where Samantha's ex is filming a new movie. (146 mins.)
 
35.
Sabado Nights (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
(103 mins.)
Director: Romy V. Suzara
“ Set and filmed in mid-90s Manila (when I was just a wee bit young), 'Sabado Nights' is what I would considering a groundbreaking film in context of when and where it is it (parochial+Christian Philippines). 'Sabado Nights' deals with the lives of three modern women and weaves within it issues that are still very much hot 'now'--singlehood, partying, cheating, multiple partners, homosexuality, pre-marital sex, HIV/AIDS, etc.

Rating: 7/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
36.
Trust (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A teenage girl is targeted by an online sexual predator. (106 mins.)
Director: David Schwimmer
“ [Directed by 'Friends' star David Schwimmer.]
Being a teenager is enough to send one into insanity, but add deceit and a good peppering of lack of self-esteem, and one can go haywire. 'Trust' examines the effect online sexual predators can have on young people, families, and society. 'Trust' ends in an extraordinarily chilling note, and reminds us that the monsters are just here in our own midst.

Rating: 8.1/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
37.
3rd World Hero (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
(93 mins.)
Director: Mike De Leon
 
38.
Message in a Bottle (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A woman discovers a tragic love letter in a bottle on a beach, and is determined to track down its author. (131 mins.)
Director: Luis Mandoki
“ There are just some writers who have a brilliant knack for churning out these classic, heart-wrenching, sugary-sweet stories. Nicholas Sparks is one of them. As American as a movie can get (settings: Chicago and Wilmington, North Carolina)--'Message' is just that--a very romantic movie I had a pleasure in watching. Kevin Costner is super super hot in this (brooding, masculine, etc.), and Robin Wright Penn is timelessly beautiful.

Rating: 8.05/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
39.
Jerry Maguire (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
When a sports agent has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent with the only athlete who stays with him. (139 mins.)
Director: Cameron Crowe
“ Emblematic of the 90s spirit, 'Jerry Maguire' the movie and Jerry Maguire the character will forever be cemented in popular film culture for many a reason: star-making and star-maintaining roles for Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr., Regina King (and the ubercute Jonathan Lipnicki as Ray!), lines such as "You complete me." and "Show me the money!!!", and a certain feel-good sensuality about the whole Cameron Crowe outfit that just makes you cheer for Jerry Maguire, the playboy and the handsome enigma fallen from grace. We all love a redemption story coupled with romance, and this truly fit the bill. Brilliant DP work by Janusz Kaminski (Saving Private Ryan), smart sharp writing, and a great message (Do it with your heart, and everything will follow). This is one of the movies we'll always look back at, marking the cusp of the new millennium.

Rating: 7/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
40.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.3/10 X  
Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. (142 mins.)
Director: Frank Darabont
“ 'Shawshank Redemption' is one of those movies that don't really 'wow' you in the first act, but builds up beautifully, masterfully at the second and third, and by the time the third act reaches the story's climax, you are left screaming and yelling *beep* yeah!' for the protagonist. Let me tell you, Tim Robbins's character's escape from that Shawshank prison is, in my opinion, one of the most chill-inducing, powerful scenes in American cinema. All in all, an outstanding movie deserving of its praise. Themes: redemption, doing good despite bad situations, friendship, the passage of time, persistence, dreams....

Rating: 9.8/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
41.
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
In 1988, young sisters Katie and Kristi befriend an invisible entity who resides in their home. (83 mins.)
“ You watch these kinds of movies for kicks: you don't have anything to do, you want something to spice up your night, etc. So I caught this with a friend tonight. It is what it is and doesn't pretend to be more--a fake, run-of-the-mill Hollywood horror flick destined to make the big bucks under a painfully short budget. The last 15 minutes made the whole thing worth it, though. Creepy grandmas in locked doors, I do not want.

Rating: 5.5/10 ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
42.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  
The Quileutes close in on expecting parents Edward and Bella, whose unborn child poses a threat to the Wolf Pack and the towns people of Forks. (117 mins.)
Director: Bill Condon
“ Movie needs no other explanation. Full of cheese and all, but an important pop culture phenomenon. Someone needs to explain to me exactly WHY this is such a hit in the first place. How can teenage girls be so... out of it? There IS no Edward Cullen. And I can't bear to imagine that any straight woman's fantasy would involve a vampire eating her baby's placenta. But all in all, good funny *beep*

Rating: 1/10. 10 for the madness and the last sequence (ugly Bella to pretyyyy Bella) ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
43.
New Year's Eve (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
The lives of several couples and singles in New York intertwine over the course of New Year's Eve. (113 mins.)
Director: Garry Marshall
“ Hollywood cliche set in another cliche (New York City with its big flashing lights and big personalities). Another one of those cutesy, predictable ensemble movies. Nothing really special, but what the hell. This movie is about LOVE, and I think LOVE is the most important thing there is in this world. Love didn't harm anyone, has it? Well, this movie certainly has helped its actors paychecks. :p
On another note, watched this a guy really special to me. So I loved every minute of it.
Pluses: ZAC EFRON and JAKE AUSTIN. How did they get so ... attractive? +Brooklyn spa to mimic 'Bali' +Michelle Pfeiffer +Queens Museum of Art NYC replica +Abigail Breslin

Rating: 6.5/10. 10 for the guy I watched it with. ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
44.
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization's name. (133 mins.)
Director: Brad Bird
“ MI:4 is the typical action film, but rises to another level due to the fact that it's main star is a true Hollywood icon--Tom Cruise. The espionage, the guns, the punches are old and done, yet MI:4 manages to surprise with a few things--the unbelievable gadgets (which will probably influence tech moguls to push the boundaries even more), and the fact that three gorgeous actors share the screen with Cruise: Paula Patton (super-sexy), Jeremy Renner (handsome man, next A-lister I think), and the adorable Simon Pegg. I was also surprised that Brad Bird, the director of the critically-acclaimed Pixar film The Incredibles, was at the helm. Cartoon man turned action-man.

Also, this movie makes me wanna be a tough, sexy, bad-ass, ultra-intelligent, athletic, good-looking, fashionable, street-smart, tech expert slash assassin. Mmmmmm. ;) The young blond assassin was BAD, but SO GORGEOUS.

Rating: 8.05/10
PS watched this w/ Elmer ” - Joseph Brillantes
 
45.
Yesterday Today Tomorrow (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
(120 mins.)
Director: Jun Lana
“ Direction by Jun Lana, dgpi. Fairly all-star, good-looking cast (Trillo, Poe, Rosales, Heusaff, Avelino). ALL-FILIPINO. And not in the good way. Melodramatic. Impossible-to-happen and over-the-top scenarios (getting pregnant at 40 plus after a quick sexual tryst? A Metro-wide earthquake bringing damage a good number of the protagonists?) Laughable. But good, fun and cheap way to spend a lazy post-Christmas day. Ahhhh some things never change. Such as Pinoy movies.

Rating: 2/10
PS watched w/ Elmer ” - Joseph Brillantes