Films watched from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012.
ALL GENRES, COUNTRIES OF CREATION, and FILMMAKING STYLES included. Includes commentary and ratings.
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
It's Complicated (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
When attending their son's college graduation, a couple reignite the spark in their relationship. But the complicated fact is they're divorced and he's remarried. (120 mins.)
Director: Nancy Meyers
“ Romantic movies are not just the domain of young and "hot" actors. When done right, a movie with sexy elements and risque talk involving older actors can be a breath of fresh air. Just like this one. Featuring Meryl Streep in another effortless performance, "It's Complicated" shows that no matter what age, people are never immune to the pangs of lust and loneliness. On a brighter note, no matter what age, people will always be open to love and new beginnings. With Nancy Meyers at the helm, it's no doubt that "It's Complicated" is a movies as luscious as a good chocolate croissant, or a weed trip. Hehe.

Rating: 8.9/10 ” - couch_potato101
The Vow (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A car accident puts Paige in a coma, and when she wakes up with severe memory loss, her husband Leo works to win her heart again. (104 mins.)
Director: Michael Sucsy
“ Watched w/ Mer.
What's with the sudden pattern of romantic movies? I should be watching heavier stuff than this fluff! But anyway, was a tad bit...underwhelmed with this movie. What's the deal with Channing's acting? Too wooden. He's got an insane look but no depth. Rachel McAdams is the only salvation of this otherwise vanilla Hollywood product. Even the story's not that great. Oh hey, at least there was popcorn ;)

Rating: 4/10 ” - couch_potato101
I Am Legend (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City struggles valiantly to find a cure. (101 mins.)
“ Will Smith, in another stud action-star role, manages to pull off serious, smart and tough all at the same time. Given the presence he has, he carries the film well despite its already-ridiculous premise (5 billion people being wiped out off the Earth, with him choosing to live ALONE). Good thrills. Awesome, chilling depiction of how Manhattan could be like given a biological apocalypse. Overall, a good film for Smith. Just wished the scenarios were a little less... funny (taking a nap when you're hanging by a rope, throwing yourself in a crowd of zombies with a grenade, etc. etc.)

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
The Hunger Games (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games: a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death. (142 mins.)
Director: Gary Ross
“ Mix an alternate universe set in an all-American landscape with the camp and inanity of these TV spectacles: Big Brother, Miss Universe, Survivor, American Idol, Amazing Race. Add the grandiosity of the Olympics. Look to "1984". In the middle of that universe, put in a strong character already destined for greatness, with the way she gives up her life for the ones she loves. In the middle of that universe, put in "The Capitol"--a stunning analogy to 21st century excess.

Hunger Games is a film that I needed to watch. In a way, it's reintroduced me to the way I watched films as a kid--with eyes wide open and a heart trembling for more, cheering on for underdog, and ultimately, the hero. (+++ for Jennifer Lawrence. STUNNING girl)

Rating: 9/10 ” - couch_potato101
Braveheart (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, Sir William Wallace begins a revolt against King Edward I of England. (178 mins.)
Director: Mel Gibson
“ Mel Gibson is a veritable Hollywood figure. Say what you will about him now, but consider this: being at the helm of two of probably the few movies that can be considered "epic" in a cultural/historical context (PASSION and this movie, BRAVEHEART), is an achievement to behold. BRAVEHEART is a movie that deserves the box office and critical success it gets: romance, sex, death, youth, war, betrayal. All the elements of a life well-lived. Bravo!

Rating: 8/10 ” - couch_potato101
Everything Must Go (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
When an alcoholic relapses, causing him to lose his wife and his job, he holds a yard sale on his front lawn in an attempt to start over. A new neighbor might be the key to his return to form. (97 mins.)
Director: Dan Rush
“ You don't really have to look deeper into this movie. Like real life 'EVERYTHING MUST GO' is simply a look into the mundanity of everyday. Will Ferrell's character, dealing with the burden of alcoholism and divorce, struggles to get by with life. But a ray of light manages to shine through in vignettes of him interacting with people not unlike himself: his neighbor Samantha, his yardsale buddy Kenny...Such is life. Can draw out but good nonetheless.

Rating: 7.3/10 ” - couch_potato101
Before Sunrise (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A young man and woman meet on a train in Europe, and wind up spending one evening together in Vienna. Unfortunately, both know that this will probably be their only night together. (101 mins.)
“ BEFORE SUNRISE is the kind of film that will leave you BEGGING for more, especially when you're young and desperate for some love and being laid. In 90s Europe, two young people meet, and with the very, very strong suggestion of romance and sex, they create a very interesting dynamic that produces one of THE best quotable quotes in American cinema. BEFORE SUNRISE is about LIFE. Youth, love, afterlife, the universe... Just BEAUTIFUL stuff.

Rating: 9.999/10 ” - couch_potato101
Before Sunset (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Nine years after Jesse and Celine first met, they encounter each other again on the French leg of Jesse's book tour. (80 mins.)
“ Nine years after their romance and conversation-loaded walkthrough of Vienna, Jesse Wallace (now a successful author, his latest book about his tragic/super-romantic rendezvous) and Celine (now an environmental activist), meet in the equally (or more so) beautiful city of Paris. Moving on from their "dazed and confused" 20s, the two come out more mature and grounded...but still searching. Same level of wit as the previous movie. More risque dialogue. LOVED EVERY MINUTE.

Rating: 10/10 (collectively, for the 2 movies) ” - couch_potato101
ÜnOfficially Yours (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
The film deals about a man who falls in love with someone who doesn't want to fall in love. John Lloyd Cruz plays the role of Macky... (106 mins.)
“ It's official. Pinoys have finally caught on to NSA-type relationships and have memorialized it in this hit of a movie. Joining together two of THE hottest actors of this generation (Angel and John Lloyd!!!), Unofficially Yours gives us a refreshing take on young relationships. Gone are the old notions of 'dalagang Pilipina'--'Ces', played by Locsin defines the girl of today. Jaded, but strong; slutty (yes), but all in all willing to love. And that's what's great.

Rating: 6/10 ” - couch_potato101
The Hurt Locker (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
During the Iraq War, a Sergeant recently assigned to an army bomb squad is put at odds with his squad mates due to his maverick way of handling his work. (131 mins.)
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
“ Look no further for evidence of war's destructive capacity. The opening titles warn us, that this extreme of human experience, can be addicting--worse, fatal. In The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow fearlessly shows us that devastating effects of war. Much more than physical destruction and decay, war crushes the human spirit. It destroys relationships with others, oneself, with family. War--is a drug. True in whatever era; much truer in ours.

Rating: 8.5/10/ *Highlights: JEREMY RENNER <3, Anthony Mackie ” - couch_potato101
Jack and Jill (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.4/10 X  
Family guy Jack Sadelstein prepares for the annual event he dreads: the Thanksgiving visit of his twin sister, the needy and passive-aggressive Jill, who then refuses to leave. (91 mins.)
Director: Dennis Dugan
“ Forget what the critics say. This film, tasteless and crass as it may be, is ridiculously funny. Jack, the prototypical family man, is a stark contrast to the socially awkward and romantically challenged Jill. We all have a Jill in all of us--that part of ourselves that no one seems to love; but Jill, with her big heart and her big humor, refuses to back down. What's great is she finds love in 2 men who couldn't be more different: a Hollywood legend and a Mexican gardener. LOVED IT.

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
Bridesmaids (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Competition between the maid of honor and a bridesmaid, over who is the bride's best friend, threatens to upend the life of an out-of-work pastry chef. (125 mins.)
Director: Paul Feig
“ There's a powerful scene in this one hell of a chick-flick comedy: as Annie, the main character of the movie (Kristen Wiig), finally hits her "bottom" sulking around her mother's house watching 'Cast Away', Melissa McCarthy comes to the rescue and basically slaps and harasses Annie around and tells her "I'm life." *beep* profound. Life IS going to bite you in the ass, and slap you around. But really, you gotta fight for it. Loved the fact, too, that comedy is the best way to express sorrow. When there's tragedy, there will always be comedy.

Rating: 7.99/10 ” - couch_potato101
No Other Woman (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Furniture supplier Ram (Derek Ramsay) is happily married to Charmaine (Cristine Reyes). One day, Ram lands a big client...
“ "You can call me whatever you want: a snake, a BITCH...other woman. But I will never be a PATHETIC, boring housewife." BURN. Exaggerated bitchiness, Pinoy dramatics, and just plain silly scenarios aside, No Other Woman is the glossy prototype on what can happen when three attractive young people just LOSE IT. It's the most fun you can have--seeing people get into each others' throats and slinging sizzling one-liners like there's no tomorrow. Loved it. Fierceness from both Anne+Cristine.

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
Footloose (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
City teenager Ren MacCormack moves to a small town where rock music and dancing have been banned, and his rebellious spirit shakes up the populace. (113 mins.)
Director: Craig Brewer
“ 'Footloose', the 2011 remake of the 80s classic feels more like it was made in the original movie's time period rather than NOW. The music is a bit dated, the attitude, the "feel". But a lesson can be gleaned from this flick: there's never a wrong time to challenge the status quo. Just do it with flair and fearlessness and you WILL win.

Rating: 7/10. +points for my lovey-dove MILES TELLER! ” - couch_potato101
Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult. (102 mins.)
Director: Sean Durkin
“ When you have nothing but yourself, and a dark past marked by abuse and fear, where do you run? In Martha Marcy May Marlene (MMMM), we see what can happen when a pretty young thing can suddenly lose an identity when faced with demons of all kinds: that stretch of time with no one to run to but yourself, and a loss of trust with people that can't be repaired. Case study on psychological breakdown, hallucination, social isolation. Brilliant acting from Olsen. Top-notch photography.

Rating: 8.3/10 ” - couch_potato101
One Day (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
After spending the night together on the night of their college graduation Dexter and Em are shown each year on the same date to see where they are in their lives. They are sometimes together, sometimes not, on that day. (107 mins.)
Director: Lone Scherfig
“ If ever you need a tear-jerker, come to this film. Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess are both gorgeous as young people struggling to find their place in this world. While the basic premise of 'One Day' as a love story set across the nostalgic 80s, 90s and early 00s (LOVED the set and costume design. damn), what shocked me was how tragic the last half of the movie became. Adultery. Alcoholism. Death. But such is life. What mattered was how they loved, anyway.

Rating: 7.97/10 ” - couch_potato101
Midnight in Paris (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée's family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s everyday at midnight. (94 mins.)
Director: Woody Allen
“ You have no idea what a Woody Allen movie is like, exactly, but somehow you expect it to be the smart-kind of funny. You are on the money. Woody Allen can still KICK it and make excellent cinema. What surprises you is this: besides being funny-smart, W. Allen's writing infuses fantasy, whimsy and just the right amount of romance and sexuality when you least expect it. There are so many lessons to be learned here. One is this: Your time and place is NOW, live it, love it.

Rating: 9.7/10 ” - couch_potato101
The Descendants (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A land baron tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident. (115 mins.)
Director: Alexander Payne
“ Matt, George Clooney's character in 'The Descendants', on a plane-ride to another Hawai'i island to "hunt" his wife's lover, makes an interesting observation about how an archipelago can compare to relationships: how separate and scattered it can be, but yet, still a whole--how its pieces slowly drift away... Such is life. Sh*t happens. And sh*t happens even to moneyed white people. In paradise, there is hurt and decay, too. But still, there's love. There's forgiveness--knowing when to let go.

Rating: 7.999/10 ” - couch_potato101
Source Code (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A soldier wakes up in someone else's body and discovers he's part of an experimental government program to find the bomber of a commuter train. A mission he has only 8 minutes to complete. (93 mins.)
Director: Duncan Jones
The Tree of Life (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
The story of a family in Waco, Texas in 1956. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence and struggles with his parents' conflicting teachings. (139 mins.)
Director: Terrence Malick
“ Prior to watching 'Tree of Life', all I expected was a drama film centering on a nuclear 50s family in middle America. I was wrong and right at the same time. This film, which goes ABOVE and BEYOND the usual with its experimental elements and non-linear narrative, does speak (mostly show) about family--but more than that the nature of life itself. It's about birth, death, love, hate, rebellion, growth, peace, forgiveness. It's a film for those who want to think more about this world. STUNNING wide-angle cinematography + new age soundtrack. T. Malick=genius.

Rating: 9.7/10 ” - couch_potato101
Drive (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A mysterious Hollywood stuntman and mechanic moonlights as a getaway driver and finds himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbor. (100 mins.)
“ Sometimes bad guys can be good, too. That's what I take from this slick neo-noir, arthouse-disguised-as-action flick. The Driver is anonymous yet ferocious in his love. Moonlighting as a heist driver while holding a (equally dangerous) stint as an LA stuntman, The Driver immerses himself into the dirty world of money and crime. Despite all of the mess he waddles himself in, you have to admire The Driver's drive (pardon the pun) to protect the good and innocent, however bloody it may be.

Rating: 8/10 ” - couch_potato101
The Artist (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A silent movie star meets a young dancer, but the arrival of talking pictures sends their careers in opposite directions. (100 mins.)
“ 'The Artist', in its 20s black-and-white glory, is no wonder an Oscar favorite because it's all about what Hollywood is. It's about showbusiness, and on a more profound note, tells us about the cycle of technology, change, life. George Valentin's career arc from a highly-admired silent film star to 'nobody' strikes us in its truth--good things must come to an end. There will always be someone to replace you. But 'The Artist' IS about an auteur--more than fame, there is a passion for just doing what you want and love and not stopping to do so.

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
Senior Year (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A high school movie featuring a mix of real students and professional actors that deals with the experience of finding one's identity in a country that barely has one. (94 mins.)
Director: Jerrold Tarog
“ 'Senior Year' is the movie that hits closest to home (and to my heart). It tells of a senior high school batch in a Catholic co-ed institution in the heart of Southern Metro Manila (that describes MY experience). The places they go, I've been there. The things they talk about, how they say it, the egos, the personalities, the things they do--all hit me hard because it's all so real. High school is an emotional ride, and made me realize that 15-16 year-olds are just as adult in their thinking, no matter how still they have a LONG way to go.

Rating: 10/10 ” - couch_potato101
Praybeyt Benjamin (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  
A gay that wants to prove himself on being brave by joining the Military. Then he met his friends and they're all not passed the training. But they became a hero from saving their leaders (105 mins.)
Director: Wenn V. Deramas
“ What is there to critique about this movie? Critiquing this Filipino movie is pointless, and shouldn't be the case, when the whole point of making this is to promote (the very talented and funny) Vice Ganda. This movie, in the most accurate terms, is fluff. Funny, mindless fluff and a good way to past the time when you're art-house film is on torrent cue. The lesson of Praybeyt Benjamin is simple: love yourself, never underestimate your abilities, and when you fight for your right and your loved ones (despite your marginalized status in society), you just might gain the respect and admiration of people who didn't know you could do it. That's what I got from it. Oh, Derek Ramsay you are a beautiful man.

Rating: 5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Horrible Bosses (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Three friends conspire to murder their awful bosses when they realize they are standing in the way of their happiness. (98 mins.)
Director: Seth Gordon
“ A psychopath corporate president, a nymphomaniac dentist, and a cokehead chemical company heir: three people you wouldn't want to BE with, much less work for. In this amazingly funny and raunchy comedy, a sort of modern Three Stooges work their way to "killing" their bosses (something they end up not doing anyway). Big stars (come on: Spacey?? Aniston??) and great eye candy (Charlie Day is SO HOT/CUTE + Jason Sudeikis is sex). Worth the ride and all the cocaine-loaded, blood-stained, peanut-allergied mess.

Rating: 9/10 ” - couch_potato101
Just Go with It (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
On a weekend trip to Hawaii, a plastic surgeon convinces his loyal assistant to pose as his soon-to-be-divorced wife in order to cover up a careless lie he told to his much-younger girlfriend. (117 mins.)
Director: Dennis Dugan
The Brown Bunny (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.0/10 X  
Professional motorcycle racer Bud Clay heads from New Hampshire to California to race again. Along the way he meets various needy women who provide him with the cure to his own loneliness, but only a certain woman from his past will truly satisfy him. (93 mins.)
Director: Vincent Gallo
“ Vincent Gallo is a dirty actor. Staying true to the tradition of underground arthouse cinema, this Warholian piece is a winding, dizzying non-narrative of one man's loneliness. Set in middle America, where rain and shine clouds over a multitude of anonymous people, we see a man tormented and broken over a past lover. She is Daisy--in her name we see an innocent brightness. Only if that were true of her life, addled in drugs and eventually ending in death. 'Brown Bunny' is a tragedy, and an examination of deprivation, of lost touch.

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
Pretty Woman (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A man in a legal but hurtful business needs an escort for some social events, and hires a beautiful prostitute he meets... only to fall in love. (119 mins.)
Director: Garry Marshall
“ The 1990 descendant of a long line of stories of oppressed femininity (AKA hooker with a heart of gold), 'Pretty Woman' manages to showcase Julia Roberts's stunning charisma, more so than her looks. Fresh-faced and with an infectious smile, we see her almost-smitten by a handsome, moneyed corporate man--the modern fairy-tale prince. In a way, the story is extremely clichéd (girl on the wrong tracks + guy to die for), but you can count on Garry Marshall to turn something into a sweet, aptly-paced classic.

Rating: 6.3/10 ” - couch_potato101
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesiac, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality. (147 mins.)
Director: David Lynch
“ David Lynch's world is psychological torture. I haven't watched 'Twin Peaks', or 'Eraserhead', or 'Inland Empire', but starting off with Mulholland Dr., it feels like you've crawled inside his mind for a good long time--and you're left cold and questioning and somehow grateful and happy that your own life, despite its inanity, isn't like his characters'. In images mainstream cinema dare not produce: female masturbation, bare boobs, etc. etc., we wonder, what in the hell? Highlights: the light and darkness of LA, Naomi Watts, the beautiful actress playing Ruth/Camilla/?

Rating: 7.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Speed Scandal (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A radio DJ/entertainer in his 30s suddenly learns he may be a grandfather, thanks to a young girl who has a baby son and claims to be his daughter. (108 mins.)
“ Korean culture's delicious elements--from cuisine, to pop music, to evening soaps--are taking over the world. Add to that the saccharine gloss of its films. In 'Speedy Scandal', we are introduced to a carefree bachelor content with his own life, until he meets his long-lost daughter out of a teenage love affair. Did not expect this film to be THIS GOOD, and thoroughly hilarious. The Korean wave is upon us, and they're doing it one funny movie at a time.
Highlights: "Memory", Wang Seok-Hyeon!, the laughs

Rating: 9/10 ” - couch_potato101
Syriana (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A politically charged epic about the state of the oil industry in the hands of those personally involved and affected by it. (128 mins.)
Director: Stephen Gaghan
“ It's a man's world. This is never truer than in Syriana, Stephen Gaghan's cerebral look into the dirty world of money, oil, culture and politics. Clothed in gold and fine linen, the spaces where wealthy men live in--CEOs, emirs, diplomats--are lined with blood and sweat and steely coldness. There's a stunning realization that behind the good things that come out of this mega-industrial capitalist complex (expensive suits, hotel suites, fancy vacations...), there are lives involved--real, precious lives. Grim is the fact that these lives are for the taking when power is involved.

Rating: 6/10 ” - couch_potato101
Going the Distance (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A romantic comedy centered on a guy and a gal who try to keep their love alive as they shuttle back and forth between New York and San Francisco to see one another. (102 mins.)
“ There's a reason why they're called 'flyover states'. Lovers from the 'cultured' corners of America travel back and forth, undying in their hope that someday, soon, they'll be together. I have a feeling this isn't a rare love story--and in this one, Garrett and Erin go through the highs and lows of being in a long-distance relationship. The rundown: chasing cougars, boring phone sex, wild drunken nights, finding a job in a dwindling economy,etc. etc.--ahhh, to be part of Generation Y. Cute movie, some pretty funny moments. Highlights: OC Christina Applegate, CHARLIE DAY <3, The Boxer Rebellion.

Rating: 6.01/10 ” - couch_potato101
Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A malfunctioning time machine at a ski resort takes a man back to 1986 with his two friends and nephew, where they must relive a fateful night and not change anything to make sure the nephew is born. (101 mins.)
Director: Steve Pink
“ It's 2010, and things are not going too good for three men who seem set in their dull lives. Who knew a hot tub in a rundown ski resort would do the trick? In HTTM, we're given a hilarious, downright outrageous trip onto memory lane, and all that with balls-on-the-floor, crazy masculine humor (bare boobs, *beep* drinking, penis jokes, gay jokes, slapstick, you know the sort). It's a thrilling ride to be in, and you don't want it to ever stop, and for a moment, you want to be in the eighties singin' "Let's Get It Started". LOVED LOVED this movie. Highlight: a really sexy badboy Rob Corddry. :-)

Rating: 9.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Sunshine Cleaning (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
In order to raise the tuition to send her young son to private school, a mom starts an unusual business -- a biohazard removal/crime scene clean-up service -- with her unreliable sister. (91 mins.)
Director: Christine Jeffs
“ "You are strong. You are powerful."--Amy Adams' character Rose, tells this message to herself in the mirror. Rose is the shell of her old self--the fun-loving, popular, sex bombshell cheerleader. At her side is her dysfunctional sister Norah--in a word a bum--both of them grappling with life and the bad cards it has dealt (a dead mother, an absent dating life and a semblance of a career...). But there is hope. Life always has hope. There is hope in the little things, one small step at a time. In smiles; in the way you hold someone's hand and just forgive.

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
All About My Mother (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Young Esteban wants to become a writer and also to discover the identity of his father, carefully concealed by his mother Manuela. (101 mins.)
“ An Almodovar film is not for the faint-of-heart. In this already-classic Spanish film, we meet a single mother with a dead teenage son, a pregnant nun with HIV, a trans woman weathered by time (though cynically funny), a trans woman who fathers both the now-single mother and the nun. If there's a crazier set of characters in a single film, fill me in. So what is 'All About My Mother' ('Todo sobre mi madre') about? It's an ode to women. It's an ode to their strength, their resilience, their ability to make something out of nothing: to create, nurture, love. To keep fighting. It's an ode to broken people, it's a love story for those who love but can't love back, or those who run away. It's your story, it's mine, it's ours. Highlights: Penelope Cruz and Cecilia Cruz are radiant here, and Beato's cinematography is a gem.

Rating: 8/10 ” - couch_potato101
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Two children conceived by artificial insemination bring their biological father into their non-traditional family life. (106 mins.)
Director: Lisa Cholodenko
“ "To an unconventional family." So goes the toast to the white California couple who happen to be a lesbian one. Probably only in America could this story happen--a "non-traditional" family so to speak, with two mothers, two teenagers finding their way into the world, and a long-lost sperm donor who happens to be really attractive (Mark Ruffalo is hot and men DO get better with age). But 'The Kids Are All Right' is a universal story (say what you will about it being a tableau of 'white people/first world problems')--a story about relationships, where there are no perfect people: only hearts willing to love and heal and renew itself again and again. Good stuff.

Rating: 7.9/10 Highlights: Annette Bening's superior acting, Mark Ruffalo's scruff and character ” - couch_potato101
Inland Empire (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
As an actress starts to adopt the persona of her character in a film, her world starts to become nightmarish and surreal. (180 mins.)
Director: David Lynch
“ If Mulholland Dr. was weird, Inland Empire is the more sinister, darker, in all ways more serious cousin. David Lynch's fascination with Hollywood's inner demons is fascinating to analyze, and with Mulholland Dr. and Inland Empire in mind you begin to wonder whether Lynch's past, or childhood or what-not, was ever good to begin with. There's always a reminder in his works that the world is not as it is; we are given images of broken people, of blood, tears, show business and sex, and we are left to put the pieces together. Insanely drawn out film, wish it would've been shorter. Will search for crazy interpretations+analyses.

Rating: 4.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Doubt (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A Catholic school principal questions a priest's ambiguous relationship with a troubled young student. (104 mins.)
“ John Patrick Shanley's 'Doubt', set in 1964, is a portrait of the calm before the storm--the storm of what is to be the iconic 60s hippies revolution: Woodstock of '69, the Paris university revolts of '68, free love, etc., etc. At the center of this is Sister Aloysius, a moralistic figure no doubt (pardon the pun), with her own neuroses and the whole school in her clutches. We navigate the ever-murky plane of righteousness and are left to wonder then--just what really happened? I'm still left asking if Fr. Flynn was truly guilty. But life never gives the full truth; the righteous also 'step away from God'. So what are we? We are merely spectators. Life will go on, and these characters will have to deal with their demons alone.

Rating: 7.5/10. Highlights: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep ” - couch_potato101
Eraserhead (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child. (89 mins.)
Director: David Lynch
“ If the film world represented the human mind, David Lynch's works would reign in the subconscious/id arena. 'Eraserhead' seems ahead of its time, with its surreal imagery and crisp black and white photography. Like a painting, the blacks are the deepest blacks, and as the film moves through its one and a half hours, the viewer is able to contemplate life itself through Lynch's bizaare imagery. The symbols and motifs drenched in sex and mystery give us clues to the lower depths of the human condition: loneliness, infidelity, abandonment. While we try to make sense of all of these images, what we interpret might just be different from what is actually meant. Classic Lynch.

Rating: 6.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
The Wackness (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
It's the summer of 1994, and the streets of New York are pulsing with hip-hop. Set against this backdrop, a lonely teenager named Luke Shapiro spends his last summer before university selling marijuana throughout New York City, trading it with his unorthodox psychotherapist for treatment, while having a crush on his stepdaughter. (99 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Levine
“ Set against the backdrop of mid-90s New York City, at the dawn of its gentrification and the eventual mainstream acceptance of rap and hip-hop culture (Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, etc.) and sinisterly, psychotropic drug culture and mental ennui (we are introduced to the lead Luke Shapiro as a shrink-attending high school kid, and are drawn into the world of the shrink itself, Dr. Squires), 'The Wackness' is not your usual coming-of-age story. Drugs, sex, and the talk of unpopularity and un-acceptance is the running theme of the film. What shines though, is the honesty of the project--the music blaring from the boom box, the sun that hits Stephanie Squires's face, the classic doomsday wackness that defines adolescence. Sometimes, it's good to face both the dopeness AND the wackness.

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
The Hours (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The story of how the novel "Mrs. Dalloway" affects three generations of women, all of whom, in one way or another, have had to deal with suicide in their lives. (110 mins.)
Director: Stephen Daldry
“ Three screen legends and a literary legend wrapped in one film. With Scott Rudin as producer, music by Philip Glass and cinematography by Seamus McGarvey (Atonement), this is the kind of film that's bound to be a classic sooner or later. All three (Streep, Moore and Kidman) give stunning, though understated performances. Kidman is especially brilliant in a subdued performance of Virginia Woolf--acted just right, no histrionics or over-dramatic moments, just a pure simple voice crying out of a mind inevitably drowned in misery. Also noted was the recurring motifs throughout the course of the film: sleep, flowers, running water, faces... All good images to symbolize beauty in sorrow. Most heartbreaking scene: realizing that the boy in the 50s flashback is the AIDS-ridden and depression-addled Richard in 2001. Other notable actors: Stephen Dillane (as Leonard Woolf), Jeff Daniels (as a gay theater professor and Richard's ex) and Toni Collette as a "desperate housewife".

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
Shortbus (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A group of New Yorkers caught up in their romantic-sexual milieu converge at an underground salon infamous for its blend of art, music, politics, and carnality. (101 mins.)
“ I was expecting 'Shortbus' to be sort of the adult American Pie--lots of sex, lots of comedy and fun and happy New Yorkers lapping it up in their uniquely-New York orgies. But this was not the case. 'Shortbus' is a quick interconnected tale on (cliche coming through!) broken people--eccentric, lost people with pieces missing in their own lives-- that they come to a secret haven aptly named Shortbus to experience something more "real". That missing piece usually came from within: no human connection (as in Severin), no orgasm (Sofia), or no happiness (James). Sex is not always the piece that will solve the puzzle, but for a good while it does; it's just an acknowledgement that somebody is brave and strong enough to love you with an open heart.

Rating: 6.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Dancer in the Dark (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An east European girl goes to America with her young son, expecting it to be like a Hollywood film. (140 mins.)
Director: Lars Von Trier
“ Could this movie have been any more boring, draggy, and pretentious? I don't really care for critical acclaim when the film in question is inherently devoid of editing or careful thought. Lars Von Trier may be a big-name director, but really--what the hell was this? Selma Jezkova, a Czech woman with musical dreams and a terrible handicap, is the antithesis of the American dream: low-paying factory job, trailer park house, a son with the same affliction. What I cannot sympathize with is how many stupid decisions she makes through the course of story: killing someone out of obedience, not quitting her job when her body demanded it, going into fantasyland at the worst times, etc. I choose to believe Jezkova was mentally deranged and unfit for normal living. Her death sentence was her ultimate redemption. Overall "blah" film. Promised myself not to watch a Bjork movie ever again so I can be saved from her annoying acting, voice, and general aura of just being painful to watch.

Rating: 1/10 ” - couch_potato101
Metropolis (1927)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences. (153 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
“ Fritz Lang's 1927 auteur piece 'Metropolis' has been hailed as 'required viewing' for any cinephile, or any cultural historian for that matter. Set in a dystopian society (which seems to critique the capitalist system with the elite at the literal 'top' and the ash-covered workers at the 'depths'), 'Metropolis' is a work of symbols and archetypes--Maria the virginal pure woman, The zombie robot as devil slut, the long-fought battle of good and evil, rich and poor, all in the hopes of attaining ultimate piece (achieved at the end?). More importantly, 'Metropolis' tries to allude to religious themes--death and resurrection, Maria as the savior-like figure, the apocalypse, the Tower of Babel, etc. It's no surprise that the Biblical motif that shapes the story is similar to the Passion of the Christ (Maria as Christ in a morally decaying society in need of "cleansing"). Religious/occult symbolism aside, 'Metropolis' is a technical feat (the special effects, set design and waterworks are enough to impress you that this was made in the 20s), and for that alone it should be remembered in cultural memory.

Rating: 5.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen. (127 mins.)
Director: Rupert Sanders
“ Snow White and the Huntsman's premise from the very start was that it was about Snow White the 'radical' chick--the kind of Snow White Disney couldn't really sell to little girls because, hell, this girl fought in metal armor. Turns out, the 'radical' Snow White inhabited by Kristen Stewart (who by the way looks absolutely radiant and presh!) is simply a pure-hearted girl who's willing to fight when needed--a modern-day princess: one part damsel and two parts the warrior a fallen kingdom needs. This film is a lush production, with amazing photography, location, set design, and closing credit song (Hi, Florence Welch)--but doesn't go over the top and achieves the right balance of gothic grim, whimsy (fairies!) and otherworldliness. Charlize Theron as the evil queen is pitch-perfect, screaming and all. Snow White and Ravenna represent the perfect dichotomy: youth and old age, good and evil, innocence and bitterness, etc. What's unsettling and chilling is that they are more the same than different. Snow, be good then!

Rating: 9.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Magnolia (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An epic mosaic of interrelated characters in search of love, forgiveness, and meaning in the San Fernando Valley. (188 mins.)
“ Set in North Hollywood, 'Magnolia' is a series of vignettes of people dealing with demons of different levels--pain, sickness, secrets, loneliness, addiction. The tragedy that belies the whole film runs through multiple generations and multiple spaces--a drug-binging daughter of a TV icon, a washed-up former quiz kid star, a cop looking for love, a nurse bearing witness to the emotional strife of a dying man, and so it goes on and on. There's a line that resonates through the course of the story: "We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us." Hauntingly true, for we have experiences within ourselves that seem to simply repeat over our lives, coincidence or not, it's a ominous sign that the world is run by a mysterious (and bitingly witty) hand--watch out for the raining frogs! (Highlights: Tom Cruise playing a sex-obsessed alpha male, Philip Seymour Hoffman looking sooo cute, pretty Melora Walters)

Rating: 8/10 ” - couch_potato101
American Graffiti (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A couple of high school grads spend one final night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college. (110 mins.)
Director: George Lucas
“ I think it's a symptom of any movie trying to recreate a 'past' era--e.g. you watch something now, filmed in the 70s, and set in the 60s, and you're left confused as to what era the story's set in (partly due to inevitable anachronisms in set design, costume, etc.) 'American Graffiti' is a portrait of the 60s (with an unmistakable 70s look), and accomplished quite a good job in depicting the relaxing social norms of the time--kids riding in cars late at night, smoking, drinking, rebel subcultures, making out, sex, booze, lots of innuendo, etc. What also surprised me was how "new" the dialogue was ("Forreal?!", "You wish!"). Add to that the energetic and youthful filming style and cinematography. This is undoubtedly a classic, influencing films like American Pie and basically any other teen movie in the past 30 years (It's the Godfather of teen movies, hello hello Coppola). The drag racing also reminded me of Fast+Furious. Though a bit draggy (and honestly boring at parts), 'A.G.' ushered in a new wave of youth culture. Highlights: Ron Howard lookin' really young, the cowboy, Curt, the really old songs. :)

Rating: 5.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Priest (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Father Greg Pilkington (Linus Roache) is torn between his call as a conservative Catholic priest and his secret life as a homosexual with a gay lover... (105 mins.)
Director: Antonia Bird
“ I've decided to watch 'Priest', as a continuing a running theme of 'religious-people-in-crisis' movie viewing. In 'Doubt' (2008), Sister Aloysius tells the naive Sister James at the end of that film: "I have doubts." It's ironic then, that Father Matthew, in the same thread of reasoning, tells his congregation that he has doubts on whether God exists because of people in the Church too entrenched in their power--too righteous, too hypocritical. Fr. Matthew is the complete opposite of 'Doubt''s Aloysius, in that he completely accepts Fr. Greg in his homosexuality. Gay-ness in the priesthood, and being gay in general, has been put under heated debate for such a long time that it's hard to express a definitive answer in morally grey arena. The world, after all, revels in evil (take the incestuous father in this), and it's a deeply tragic fact that those in the hierarchy trained specifically to curb this evil are wrestling with the same demons themselves. 'Priest' is a human portrait, with Fr. Matthew and Fr. Greg representing elements in ourselves that deserve acknowledgment (that is, acceptance and forgiveness of others, and acceptance and forgiveness of our desires.) Highlights: Linus Roache (amazingly handsome man) and Tom Wilkinson are great in this.

Rating: 6.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Last Tango in Paris (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A young Parisian woman meets a middle-aged American businessman who demands their clandestine relationship be based only on sex. (129 mins.)
“ Second to Romeo and Juliet, 'Last Tango in Paris' is a modern contender for Most Tragic Love Story (let me exaggerate). I was expecting this Bertolucci film to be the French product that I thought it would be: lots of steamy sex, a hot May-December romance in the City of Lights, and (forgive me for being too literal) some dirty tango dancing. In my mind, 'Last Tango' was a perfect picture of forbidden lust and love. But damn, was I floored. 'Last Tango', though generous in its naughty bits (ass shots, bush/crotch shots, boobs, thrusting), is essentially a cold case of a man's pathology. 'Last Tango' is about a man desperate for love, a man afraid of love, of intimacy and secrets--and this Achilles heel of his ultimately led to his downfall. The pretty 20-year-old girl (who is amazingly chic by the way) is secondary to his story. All in all, an okay film (really draggy and felt longer than 2 hours). What is superb though and I will never forget, is the stunning cinematography (framing, zooms, lines, etc.) and lighting. The whole film felt like a modern painting--darks, lights, warm colors with blacks, etc. I was fortunate enough to have a DVD with a crisp copy of the film.

Rating: 6/10 ” - couch_potato101
X-Men: First Class (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
In 1962, the United States government enlists the help of Mutants with superhuman abilities to stop a malicious dictator who is determined to start World War III. (132 mins.)
Director: Matthew Vaughn
“ This is a superhero origin story done right. X-Men as a film franchise hasn't really impressed me (I still remember watching X-Men: The Last Stand and horrified at this line: "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!"). But 'First Class' kept me hooked through and through--this film is more than a show-off piece of the mutants' superpowers: it delves deep into historical fiction, and incorporates military and 60s elements seamlessly it's obvious those at the helm of this had fun with it (Kennedy clips, Vegas nights, etc.) The highlight of this movie is the extreme sexiness displayed by the McAvoy-Fassender-Jennifer Lawrence tandem. Never has a more perfect/good-looking cast been assembled (hello, Nick Hoult, Lucas Till, and surprise Kevin Bacon!). 'First Class' is also a lesson on good and evil. Two important characters, Magneto and Mystique, who seemed promising at the beginning turn out to be the future bane of Xavier. Just shows that even the best people can change just like that. Fun, entertaining, fast-paced film.

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
Great Expectations (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A humble orphan suddenly becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor. (118 mins.)
Director: David Lean
“ 'Great Expectations' is the iconic Dickensian tale that it is--a dramatic story of almost-epic proportions: secrets, a hidden love story, stretching across time periods. For one thing, it is a commoner's fantasy (a dream that might've come across an ordinary English persons mind in Dickens's time)--boy lives a very meager life in a humble household, is innately good, does good, is rewarded a rich and lavish life in the "happenin'" city of London, etc. It's fitting that a story on social mobility ends in a consummation with a well-brought up woman (Estella and Pip forever!). 'G.E' stands the test of time because of its enduring themes: innate goodness, the inherent mystery and surprise of life, loneliness, the sense of chaos and change as a person grows over time, and the fervent pursuit of love no matter what. Classic film.

Rating: 6.75/10 ” - couch_potato101
M (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt. (117 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
“ Fritz Lang has another iconic film in his hand with 'M'. Shot in the 30s, 'M' as a psychological and social mirror withstands the times, and is a steely, heightened piece of art that deserves further analysis. They say that the best art gives us a deeper look into the human psyche, and 'M' does just that--probing into this German city's collective psyche (as the powerful news media ignite fear & intrigue among the public and shape their consciousness of the serial killer) and the murderer's individual pysche ("I can't help it!"). Superb performance from the 'Murderer', showing how truly torturous it is to deal with mental pathology. This should definitely be required viewing for sociology, psychology and criminal justice students. Classic German cinema.

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
Harold and Maude (1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Young, rich, and obsessed with death, Harold finds himself changed forever when he meets lively septuagenarian Maude at a funeral. (91 mins.)
Director: Hal Ashby
“ It's interesting how 'Harold and Maude' and 'Last Tango in Paris' came out consecutively--just shows how much film can indicate the belying social current: May-December relationships, sexual freedom and exploration. Granted that cougar-cub relationships are far rarer than the usual young girl-old stud pairing, 'Harold and Maude' is BEYOND daring and fresh. It's in-your-face black humor/sexy comedy, and is unapologetic in its presentation of a disturbed young boy's love for a much, much older woman. It's a psychoanalyst's dream just to flesh out the Harold and Maude phenomenon ('Harold and Maude' has become culturally synonymous for the kind of relationship the film presents). I see 'Harold and Maude' as a very early precursor to the modern hipster film/movement: Harold as the 'social enemy' and Maude as the 'state enemy', fruity guitar music set against melancholic scenes, darkness and peculiarity in theme and humor, earth awareness ("It's ORGANIC!"), an unusual look into love/sexuality, etc. 'Harold and Maude' as a FILM is as rebellious and norm-shattering as the characters in it. And for that it is immensely culturally/sociologically relevant as a film.

Rating: 7.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Out of Africa (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
In 20th-century colonial Kenya, a Danish baroness/plantation owner has a passionate love affair with a free-spirited big-game hunter. (161 mins.)
Director: Sydney Pollack
“ It's another case of white people doing pretty things. I know this film is much more than that, but as the story draws to a close you think--just what was the point of this? Oh, I know: to show that Meryl Streep is a cinematic goddess worthy of all the Oscars she can get. The film, set in a "farm in Africa," is simply a good ol' reminsicin' tale--the sort of stories old people tell their grandkids when their lives are about to meet a close: tragedy, romance, deception, contribution to society, etc. It's also about the "pure" kind of love--oooh Meryl's character with Redford's was steaming! In the end, the viewer learns, memories are all you have. "I had a farm in Africa..."

Rating: 7.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Mildred Pierce (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A hard-working mother inches towards disaster as she divorces her husband and starts a successful restaurant business to support her spoiled daughter. (111 mins.)
Director: Michael Curtiz
“ There are just some stories that never get old: the classic rags-to-riches story with the rich-people-with-problems arc is just one of them. 'Mildred Pierce' came to my knowledge because Kate Winslet was starring in the titular role for an HBO series, but I am so glad I caught this amazing film--everything, from the set, lighting, cinematography, writing (oh, the BRILLIANT writing) deserves to be commended. Why is this film a classic? It represents characters that reside deep within our souls: our ego/the fighter--willing to surmount all odds (Mildred) and the vengeful, world-weary id (Veda). Veda, in my opinion, deserves to be an iconic character in literary/cinematic history. And Mildred's character was the sure sign of the burgeoning feminist wave: women who keep their ideals and femininity intact (the gorgeous 40s clothes, babe!) while working hard for the money.

Rating: 10/10 ” - couch_potato101
Sideways (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment embark on a week-long road trip through California's wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle. (126 mins.)
Director: Alexander Payne
“ 'Sideways' was merely a blip on my radar as a sixth-grader. Sure, I knew it was about white people talking about their problems over expensive drink and contemplating about life and the works, but I did not expect this movie to be such a freaking hoot. 'Sideways' is probably one of the greatest examples of the modern black comedy. It's melancholia and boorishness rolled into one fine piece of an on-the-road story, and Alexander Payne does it with extreme subtlety and mastery you don't know their grief and desperation's already hit you. 'Sideways' can be cynically seen as a wank for all the middle-aged dudes pining for days past, but really--this is about people who just need some comfort amidst their ridiculous lives. Highlights: Sandra Oh slamming Thomas Haden Church with a helmet/ Giamatti and Haden Church running from a naked dude in small-town California. Great laughs and some pretty heart-wrenching moments.

Rating: 9/10 ” - couch_potato101
Blood Diamond (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A fisherman, a smuggler, and a syndicate of businessmen match wits over the possession of a priceless diamond. (143 mins.)
Director: Edward Zwick
“ 'Blood Diamond is not for kids. In fact, if any film deserved an NC-17 rating, this would be it. Child soldiers being primed for killing holding AK-47s and partying with beer and hip-hop, villages torn by violence and flesh-hungry rulers, simple men with their lives destroyed because of greed and simple ignorance: these are the things which, in a perfect world, should never have been the reality of the new millennium, but unfortunately has been the ONLY reality for some millions of African people and other people in third-world countries. Outrage is not enough to stop this. Systemic change, I don't know. All I know is that, through the all-encroaching dynamics of business and economics, and geopolitics, there are people who live day-to-day blithely unaware of the harsh reality people who do not share the same ethnicity, language or culture deal with. Ignore this film's 'white-people-save-the-day' message, and see it for what it is: an artistic call to be less blind to the quotidian apocalypse taking place by the hour on this planet we call 'ours'.

Rating: 8/10 ” - couch_potato101
Helvetica (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A documentary about typography, graphic design, and global visual culture. (80 mins.)
Director: Gary Hustwit
“ Required viewing for any visual person--graphic designers, artists, corporate communications people, marketing people, people who like to read, and yes, typophiles: people who get off on looking at text. Because typophiles know that behind every block of text is a history and culture behind it--a block of text loaded with hidden meanings (Helvetica, in its pride of being meaning-free, is actually a statement of corporate culture and stability, as opined in the documentary). After watching this documentary, you realize that the way information presented, meaning type, arrangement, etc., has permeates a huge aspect of our lives, precisely like air: in our cities, on our food, on the clothes off our back. Never has art and commerce been more part of our everyday. Brilliant stuff, will do repeat viewings of this.

Rating: 9/10 ” - couch_potato101
Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow looks to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy. (93 mins.)
Director: George Clooney
Something Borrowed (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Friendships are tested and secrets come to the surface when terminally single Rachel falls for Dex, her best friend Darcy's fiancé. (112 mins.)
Director: Luke Greenfield
“ Catching the last hour of this movie on Star Movies, 'Something Borrowed' left me with an over-saccharine taste in my mouth. It defined everything I believed was trite about romantic comedies: a Ken doll of a leading man, Kate Hudson in a random bitchy role, and an overall naivete and "fairy tale"-like quality to the whole story (which was true!). But 'Something Borrowed', in a second full viewing, lends a certain feel-good charm that made me reconsider giving this movie a higher rating than before. What tipped the scale? The overall hotness/cuteness and gay-acting of John Krasinski. Kidding. But yes he was part of that. What made 'Something Borrowed' special was Dex's and Rach's long history: Rach didn't have an infatuated unrequited crush with Dex; it was Dex all along who was falling for Rach in their whole four years at NYU Law. That made all the difference in the story.

Rach got her redemption in the end, and though Darcy (who was used to getting her way in every stage of her life, from childhood, to college) didn't have a fantasy wedding cut out for her, she found true 'happiness' in her choices. 'Something Borrowed', then, is the perfect chick flick. It's about women fighting for their happiness, of happiness eventually finding its way through their lives after a bitter, quiet struggle. (Who knew rom-coms can make you philosophize?)

Rating: 8/10 ” - couch_potato101
Laws of Attraction (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Amidst a sea of litigation, two New York City divorce lawyers find love. (90 mins.)
Director: Peter Howitt
“ Leave it to Hollywood to make an insanely predictable story with completely predictable characters. The legal profession portrayed in a glamorous, high-powered, sexy light--check. Two white leads, one with a British accent--check. The leads consummated by a wedding--check. Manhattan setting--check. So one must focus on the other aspects of this film to appreciate what it has to offer: the actors. While the story is cutesy (and otherwise flimsy, but hey, cute), the top-notch actors are super fun to watch--Julianne Moore is absolutely radiant and fresh, Michael Sheen is brilliant as the *beep* rockstar, (indie film darling) Parker Posey as the scorn young wife/fashion ingenue. In short, see this film for the people, and not for the story that merely highlights the talented actors.

Rating: 6.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Revolutionary Road (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children. (119 mins.)
Director: Sam Mendes
“ 'Revolutionary Road' is a masterful take into the relationship of an ordinary couple in the 50s--bound by the increasing prosperity of America and the drive to show well-lived, materially realized lives, they struggle in their choice on whether to continue carrying out a lie they've tried to live (house and kids and slaved-over lunches) or pursuing their fantasies, no matter how "whimsical" and "neurotic" they may be. 'RR' closes on a tragic moment, with April's death, and we are heartbroken to see her grieved over by two men who loved her: Frank and Shep. April, if we look closely, is a dark symptom of our world, where people are required to maintain facades when in truth, it all can just be too much to handle. The 50s, as simple as it seems now, is just as fraught with complications it turns out. As April tells her husband "I don't feel anything," you sense that the fight has been won by the other side--a resignation from the "interesting life" so to speak. But for Frank, he has to fight for April's life, for the kids, for himself. It's taking the high road, the "revolutionary road". Highlights: Sam Mendes's direction/Thomas Newman's music/Roger Deakins's photography

Rating: 8/10 ” - couch_potato101
Rent (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
This is the film version of the Pulitzer and Tony Award winning musical about Bohemians in the East Village of New York City struggling with life, love and AIDS, and the impacts they have on America. (135 mins.)
Director: Chris Columbus
“ Forget what they tell you about this film--this is two hours well-spent. At the helm of Chris Columbus, young bohemian New York looks gorgeous: grime, snow and all. Having its roots in Puccini's La Boheme and of course, Larson's original play, 'Rent' is the kind of entertainment that can leave you breathless--with its romantically tragic/broken characters (Mimi, Angel, and Maureen for starters), on-point music (this is rock opera done right), and quick fresh pace. While Hollywood tries its best to glamorize people of "alternative" lifestyles (after all, 'Rent' deals with gays, prostitutes, HIV+ people, bums, cross-dressers, etc and it's obvious in this film), what should prevail is the understanding that these people, these kinds of lives exist. 'Rent', the musical and the movie, are only the surface features of the underpinning ills in society, the truths that belie the frenetic energy of the city. This has been true in Murger's time (author of the novel which inspired Puccini's libretto), in Puccini's, in Larson's 80s New York, and probably any big, important city in the future where artists and young people will try to find their place. God bless them. /Highlights: Rosario Dawson being so sexy and just plain fun to watch/the songs.

Rating: 10/10 ” - couch_potato101
Prometheus (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Following clues to the origin of mankind, a team finds a structure on a distant moon, but they soon realize they are not alone. (124 mins.)
Director: Ridley Scott
“ Watch 'Prometheus' as a primer to the iconic 'Alien' franchise & be satisfied at that. More than being awed at 'Prometheus' as a film in itself (to be honest, I wasn't expecting this film to be the camp and in-your-face-horror product it was), you realize its role in uncovering the story of 'Alien' and the birth of the actual antagonist (which by the way is scary as *beep* There's a certain ridiculousness and over-the-topness to 'Prometheus', and now I expect the rest of the 'Alien' movies to be the same; taking the series as a whole, there's an underpinning of a myths and mythologies that's been with human civilization for ages: the creation of man, the creation of darkness and evil, origin stories, fear and fear of the unknown, wrestling with the gods, etc. If there's one thing about being human, it's wanting to know the Creator's mind, and to even surpass it. It happened to Daedalus and Icarus, it happened to Drs. Shaw and Holloway--these cunning and daring people, who represent the best of humanity, have been on the verge of destruction just because they wanted to know and challenge the very core of themselves. Thrilling stuff. The movie and the philosophy behind it.

Rating: 6/10. Highlights: 10/10 for the abortion scene and the alien birth scene right before the final credits. ” - couch_potato101
Young Adult (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Soon after her divorce, a fiction writer returns to her home in small-town Minnesota, looking to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend, who is now happily married and has a newborn daughter. (94 mins.)
Director: Jason Reitman
“ Beyond the guise of feminine perfection: tousled hair, flawless skin, lips and eyes to die for is a young, confused woman trapped in a (still-as-beautiful) thirty-seven year-old body, only this body needs the weekly spa treatment, intensive mani-pedi and hair treatment, and the Marc Jacobs dress to win the elusive Buddy Slade. 'Young Adult' perfectly captures the ennui of having everything people want--beauty, a nice career, the good stuff--but choosing to spend days and nights lying in bed watching the Kardashians over Ben & Jerry's. This baby of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody will resonate very strongly with people afflicted with demons such as depression (and sadly alcoholism)--that feeling of just being on the edge, of desperately wanting something even if it's not good for you. With Theron's Mavis it becomes absolutely essential that she recapture the affection of her high-school flame, Slade, just as it is essential that she purge her mind and heart of the hurt she's gained by losing a child at twenty and breaking of a once-promising marriage. Not just a simple 'comedy', 'Young Adult' succeeds as it reflects dysfunctions of 21st century America, 21st century world--KenTacoHuts ravishing every city, trash reality TV, loneliness in spite of material fulfillment, and the false promise of superficial appearances. Theron wins in this film, and the confrontation-at-the-front-lawn scene just breaks my heart--this is a girl with everything, ending up with nothing. We wish she finds her place and peace.

Rating: 8/10 ” - couch_potato101
Shame (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A man's carefully cultivated private life is disrupted when his sister arrives for an indefinite stay. (101 mins.)
Director: Steve McQueen
“ Steve McQueen's 'Shame' is the moment Michael Fassbender becomes a star in his own right. Born with handsome looks and a body so good it brings all girls and boys to the bedroom, Fassbender is at-once effective and haunting in his portrayal of Brandon, a thirty-something man with a seemingly above-average life (Manhattan apartment, corporate job, date nights), but one who cannot make essential emotional connections with people--that very nice girl at the office, his sister Sissy (played by the brilliant Carey Mulligan), his boss, it goes on. Brandon, in his pathology, chooses webcam sex and sluts and gay bars over a committed relationship (longest was four months, oops); his sister, also emotionally withered, is a singer just as wanting in love and intimacy. In their barrenness they hurt themselves in the end--with Sissy enduring failed suicide and Brandon being left in tears. Beyond the scope of the film, beyond the scope of thirty-something Brandon and twenty-something Sissy, we seek to know just HOW and WHY they've been wrestling with such problems--something in their childhoods? in the way they were raised? heartbreak? genetics? personality disorders? It's interesting to investigate, because McQueen does not give us answers, he merely shows and lets us reflect, and let the actors do the talking.

(just realized: 'Shame' is similar to the past films I've watched this year: Young Adult [having everything and nothing], and Last Tango in Paris [man cannot make intimate connections, so has to resort to rough dirty sex]

Rating: 7.6/10 ” - couch_potato101
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
After Peter Parker is bitten by a genetically altered spider, he gains newfound, spider-like powers and ventures out to solve the mystery of his parent's mysterious death. (136 mins.)
Director: Marc Webb
“ Watched w/Mer @ Rockwell Makati.
->Sort of an ode and 10th anniversary to the already classic Sam Raimi Spider-Man (2002), 'The Amazing-Spiderman' is truly a Spidey film for Generation Y, the Millennials. With the incredibly sexy and lean Andrew Garfield and the rising superstar Emma Stone (both in flourishing, promising Hollywood careers), this Marc Webb feature tantalizes mid-plot, and first and foremost showcase's Andrew Garfield's phenomenal skill and cinemagenic looks (Is it obvious I'm biased???). Yes, the 2002 Spidey with Tobey Maguire in it will forever remain fossilized in my childhood memories, but this one reaches near-perfection with its fresh (and un-overdone) action and a glossy, lust-worthy depiction of the Manhattan cityscape. The villiains and the guns and explosions are de rigeur--what got me hooked was Andrew Garfield's intoxicating smile and body+intoxicating New York City.

It's also interesting how Parker's lit teacher told her class: There is only one plot in the history of stories: "Who am I?" Brilliant stuff to think about.

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
Project X (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
3 high school seniors throw a birthday party to make a name for themselves. As the night progresses, things spiral out of control as word of the party spreads. (88 mins.)
Director: Nima Nourizadeh
“ This, I can finally say, is a movie made for my generation. Trailing the giant footsteps of the teen classic American Pie (1999), and the daddy footsteps of the crazy romp The Hangover (2009), Project X succeeds in shocking, and ultimately capturing the essence of Generation Y in the 2010s. Thomas Kub, played by the adorable Thomas Mann, is the quintessential average HS kid: lanky, not really popular, but fairly comfortable in a niche--that's about to change when, along with his best friends Costa and JB, he manages to throw a legendary house party complete with a neighborhood incineration as the finale. Project X succeeds in what it aims to be: a dirty ditty designed for the aggressive young, horny male, the sort of reckless and impudent little brother to The Hangover. Only the destruction is bigger. The film's elements of flashing lights, smoke, water and ambient sound (music, screams and shouts), perfectly capture the chaos, the anarchy, the blatant stupidity and rebellion of youth--and most importantly, the basic human desires for sex and acceptance in the context of a rigid social hierarchy (also, the capacity for total destruction and war.) X reveals the id of the homo sapiens, only with banging cinematography and soundtrack. Highlights: camerawork, music (Animal Collective, Eminem, Dr. Dre, etc.), MILES TELLER, hello!

Rating: 7.1/10 ” - couch_potato101
21 Jump Street (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A pair of underachieving cops are sent back to a local high school to blend in and bring down a synthetic drug ring. (110 mins.)
“ The more irreverent, raunchier younger brother of the 80s TV show starring Johnny Depp, 21 Jump Street, with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill is the sort of product you'd expect from marketing genius that comes out of Hollywood--target the young, horny high school dudes and you have this movie. Guns, sex and dick references, a cute Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and a wild (honestly hilarious) car chase scene at the end. Jump Street is what it is -- fluff that can tickle your funny bone even for a short while. HIGHLIGHTS: DAVE FRANCO (sooo cute and hot), JOHNNY DEPP CAMEO at the end, seeing familiar faces (Dave, Johnny, RYE RYE, Jake M. Johnson [my crush] and Ellie Kemper [from Bridesmaids]!).

Rating: 5.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Pride & Prejudice (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice? (129 mins.)
Director: Joe Wright
“ A masterful adaptation of Jane Austen's classic, 'Pride & Prejudice', directed by young director Joe Wright, is an appropriate supplement to already-legendary book: clean, simple cinematography, an intelligent screenplay that leads to the audience biting social commentary which sets the stage to illuminate Keira Knightley's (and consequently Elizabeth Bennett's) admirable qualities: an unassuming beauty, eloquent diction, and basically a certain grace that will convince you a man as handsome and as noble as Mr. Darcy would fall in love with, albeit not as obvious. Though I haven't read the book, "Pride & Prejudice" I assume, succeeds with readers because it appeals to our rebel psyche: we want to be different; we want to be the one to see the "wrongs" of the society around us, and in the end, we want to be rewarded for that difference: a true, pure, hidden love that shall only blossom at the end. It's hardly an original literary trope, but one that succeeds through and through to capture hearts and minds. Note, too: class differences, Darcy as the "template" of the "perfect"/"desirable" man: quiet, dark, brooding, of high class and social status, object of secret desire, etc. etc. Excellent film. Highlights: Knightley's and Judi Dench's acting, photography, set, costumes, music.

Rating: 9/10 ” - couch_potato101
A Love Story (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
What if you met the woman you wanted to make your wife after you married someone else? Ian Montes is a picture of success...
“ "Not everything that makes us happy is right. But all that is right will eventually make us happy." A Filipino film a notch above the rest (in my opinion), 'A Love Story', which stars former matinee idols Aga Muhlach and Maricel Soriano and hot starlet Angelica Panganiban, is a study on superficial veneers: the cover of a beautiful wife and a beautiful life is not enough to hide the pain a person can hold throughout a lifetime--somehow one can manage to hurt people, people close to one's heart especially, as unhappiness and discontent take its toll. 'A Love Story' is a conundrum of moral lessons: don't take anything for granted, cherish the people around you, people can be forgiven, and the only person you hurt by not being honest is yourself; most importantly, love others.

Rating: 7.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Pitch Black (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A commercial transport ship and its crew are marooned on a planet full of bloodthirsty creatures that only come out to feast at night. But then, they learn that a month-long eclipse is about to occur. (109 mins.)
Director: David Twohy
“ 'Pitch Black' is hard to watch. Almost two hours in length, this post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror thriller feels like six, with its long tracking shots of deserts, horrible flying creatures, and supremely "dark" atmosphere (Why do you think this was 'Pitch Black'?). We are drawn into these people's world, where spaceships become the sites of mass destruction, and where the bad guy survives. It's bad versus evil--evil being the planet itself--nature and its sinister sons: animals, caves, rocks, darkness. I wouldn't want to live in it.

What stands out in this movie is Vin Diesel's portrayal of Riddick. Incredibly sexy, masculine and tough (and with special eyes to boot), Riddick is the type of villain you'd root for. In other words, he's HOTTT as HELL. In the end, we become curious as to how the hyper-buff ex-convict turns out (apparently we find that out in 2004's Chronicles of Riddick). Nothing short of a cult sci-fi film, 'Pitch Black' succeeds in terrifying and stressing out its viewers. This is the movie that paved the way for Diesel's superstardom, and is one of the movies that defines the mid-90s/early 00s film language (Y2K feel, greens, blues, blacks) along with The Matrix.

Other highlights: Radha Mitchell is radiant in this despite being sweaty and battered by the desert; writing is tack-sharp and very witty/technical ("Sutff a cork in it!", "trawl", "hull", "hype", "cells", "ghost me", "dancing on razorblades", "sandcat", "shiv", "mush on", etc.) Other comments: Carolyn Fry becomes very foolish in the end (WTF), I wanna watch Chronicles!

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
Thor (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
The powerful but arrogant god Thor is cast out of Asgard to live amongst humans in Midgard (Earth), where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders. (115 mins.)
Director: Kenneth Branagh
“ Chris Hemsworth is a Hollywood newbie, but with 'Thor' as his passport to other leading roles, he is sure to succeed. Playing a Norse god is hard enough, but playing it with humor and style and a certain youthful innocence is nothing short of an achievement. 'Thor' is your usual superhero movie--1st act, the good guys win, 2nd act--the good guys are lost and the bad guy takes over, 3rd act--the good guy redeems himself. Universal themes like family, betrayal, good vs. evil, good turned evil, strength despite all challenges, etc. resound in this movie. Perfect for the kids and the comic-book geeks.
Other comments: Kat Dennings is PERFECT; didn't know Tom Hiddleston was cute; didn't know RENNER was in this and that S.H.I.E.L.D plays a part in this; I want to live in Odin's kingdom!!!

Rating: 5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Melancholia (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with Earth. (135 mins.)
Director: Lars von Trier
“ The only other Lars Von Trier film in my memory is 'Dancer in the Dark', and because of that horrible, horrible film (this opinion might change, but for now I rest my case), I vowed I would never watch a Von Trier product ever again. But 'Melancholia''s plot was incredibly hard to resist: a woman depressed as hell, in a world that's about to get hit by a rogue planet. Who wouldn't want to watch that? The first half of the film is usual Von Trier: slow shots, mumbles, silent gazes, hushed dialogue. The latter becomes more abstract, like a painting: moons, naked bodies, beans raining down a field, grass, wood, greens, blues, magentas, stars, space, more silence. Von Trier gained the artistic license in 'Melancholia' that he didn't deserve in 'Dancer'. And with 'Melancholia', once again, he explores the ugly, irrational side of the human psyche. The one that hides. The one that shies away from love and affection. The one that stays quiet, that rebels.

Sometimes it's hard to show sympathy for the characters in this film: after all, they're rich--they ride horses, eat in a private terrace, throw lavish parties; they pick blueberries for fun for God's sake!--but that just offsets the sadness most of the characters feel, characters who by the way are amazingly played by these gorgeous actors: Dunst, the two Skarsgårds, Brady Corbet, the incredible Charlotte Gainsbourg, John Hurt, and KIEFER *beep* SUTHERLAND (who the hell would've though Sutherland would show up in a Von Trier film???).

'Melancholia' succeeds for showing the complexity of depression--its beautiful and sinister manifestations. "She's ill," says one of the characters, referring to Justine. Justine, as a subject of depression, revels in otherworldly imagery: stars, the promise of another universe. What disturbs her sister Claire is the daunting reality that this other body, this other world, has taken over the lives of her loved ones. Melancholia, the star/rogue planet, works then as an apt metaphor for the debilitating state--something out of mind, then goes nearer and nearer, until it destroys everything.

Rating: 10/10, for symbolic, metaphorical handling of narrative, for its dream-like treatment of cinematic language ” - couch_potato101
Music and Lyrics (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A washed up singer is given a couple days to compose a chart-topping hit for an aspiring teen sensation. Though he's never written a decent lyric in his life, he sparks with an offbeat younger woman with a flair for words. (96 mins.)
Director: Marc Lawrence
The Bourne Legacy (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
An expansion of the universe from Robert Ludlum's novels, centered on a new hero whose stakes have been triggered by the events of the previous three films. (135 mins.)
Director: Tony Gilroy
“ "I have a PhD in Biochemistry and post-docs in Virology and Genetics, of course I know how to read!", says Dr. Marta Shearing, played by the ever-radiant Rachel Weisz. 'The Bourne Legacy' is 135 minutes of cerebral madness, the good kind and the bad kind. As we infiltrate the stressful, cryptic world of Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), we come to realize that we wouldn't want to be caught dead in it (literally): a massacre in a Bethesda genetic lab, covert ops in the Alaskan wilderness, jumping from one international destination to another (glimpses of Seoul, Washington DC, Bangkok, Manhattan pepper the film), leaving us with clues--strange clues: a lot of history and exposition of Jason Bourne himself, and unfortunately, some trite and heavy dialogue. And so this defines a Bourne film: it's supposed to be smart and sexy and tough and strong. This toughness, this stubornness then, is what drives Cross to go halfway around the planet through the gritty streets of Manila (of where I LIVE)--jeepneys, cigarette smoke, a million dozen people, a super genetic chem-drug plant (who knew?).

As the film traverses through its busy streets which then become the background of a bad-ass motorcycle chase (Pasay Rotonda, NAIA, Malate), I now know the goal of Hollywood: to exoticize, to make exciting what is not (in real life, CIA ops and drug-hunting is as boring as watching paint dry, I think), to construct a hero-symbol to help reinforce (along with thousands of other movies in the same vein) the picture of the strong, White man.

It's the stuff of myth-making, of image-making; it is what makes celebrities of Renner and Norton and Weisz, it is what makes Manila an attractive alien world. Gilroy, however hodge-podge and harried his direction might be, gave me an electric experience with 'Legacy': an insight on Hollywood's emic account of espionage, action and (our) Third World it chooses its action heroes to go bad and beyond.

Rating: 5.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
The wanted criminal Riddick arrives on a planet called Helion Prime, and finds himself up against an invading empire called the Necromongers, an army that plans to convert or kill all humans in the universe. (119 mins.)
Director: David Twohy
The New World (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
The story of the English exploration of Virginia, and of the changing world and loves of Pocahontas. (135 mins.)
Director: Terrence Malick
Dito sa puso ko (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 2.3/10 X  
Ligaya Tatlonghari (Judy Ann Santos) is a movie fan in every sense of the word - she eats and breathes showbiz. She has two foremost dreams: to travel to the United States and to join her favorite TV game show.
The Help (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis. (146 mins.)
Director: Tate Taylor
“ Set in the early '60s at the crux of the civil rights movement and right before the explosive social revolution of America (free love, drugs, sex and rock and roll), 'The Help' paints a beautiful picture of what it was like then and how much has changed in half a century. 'The Help' is most definitely an instant classic--a film that will be revisited again and again as a studied portrait of social divide, of social unity; it is a film that will be required viewing for schools all across the world for the messages it espouses.

Based on Kathryn Stockett's best-selling book of the same name, 'The Help' deals with issues such as racism, gender roles, class and power structure, the idea of urban-rural divide, of social conservatism and liberalism. The director, Tate Taylor, masterfully translates the poignancy of the book to film, and consequently the film itself as an art form holds a crisply defined and well-thought out aesthetic that's hard to forget. Shades of green, yellow, brown and orange serve as the leitmotif of the film's photography, and generously lends to the story's setting: Jackson, Mississipi.

It is already postulated in the film that Jackson is absolutely not New York (in New York, the women live in office buildings and eat sushi for dinner!), and therein lies a beautiful dichotomy, especially evident in differences of the characters of Eugenia Phelan (played by the beautiful, rising star Emma Stone--her star will only shine brighter because of this film) and her mother (played by the talented Allison Janney). Eugenia, mature for her age and unbounded by the social norms of her time, desires to be a journalist--to expose truths, to make people aware of truths. Her mother, however, sees Eugenia's singlehood akin to social suicide. We see the struggles of the liberated and conservative, of the free and the un-free, the rural and the cosmopolitan, the rich and the poor then become more and more pronounced as the film progresses.

And there are the master-class performances of Viola Davis (as Aibee) and Octavia Spencer (as Minny), plus Bryce Dallas Howard (as the deliciously bitchy Hilly) and the brilliant Jessica Chastain (as Celia Foote--a seemingly blonde bimbo with an incredible heart to match) that makes this film a home-run success--these are characters you root for and cheer for.

A gut-wrenching examination of prejudice, of acceptance, of family, friends, and a million other social commentaries (domestic abuse, role of food in culture--pies, cornbread and fried chicken with Crisco please!, religion, hypocrisy, change, scandal, familial pressures, the concept of helps raising children, etc.), 'The Help' teaches us this lesson: the gift of truth and elimination of ignorance will set us free from the oppressive structures of this world, and that family and social ties, above anything, will define how we maintain or destroy these structures. A+ Hollywood film, bravo.

Other notes
Production: classic American filmmaking: crisp photography, lighting, sets, costume, hair and make-up, tear-inducing music by Thomas Newman, clean and polished aesthetic, eye candy, visual treat esp. for women and children
Highlights: the top-notch acting of Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer
Watch out for: Coca-Cola product placements!

Rating: 8.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Rachel Getting Married (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A young woman who has been in and out of rehab for the past ten years, returns home for the weekend for her sister's wedding. (113 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Demme
“ I bought a DVD copy of 'Rachel Getting Married' when as a high school senior (Anne Hathaway fan and white people drama fan here!); after putting it in the player, I was in a shock--shaky cam, unfiltered dialogue, unfiltered everything--Rachel, a thirty-something Connecticut woman, and her getting married, seemed like a droning event, completely alien, outside of my experience. But fast forward some four years, and this film, in my mind, ultimately stands the test of a passage of a couple years: instead of looking dated or gimmicky (shaky cam, natural lighting, spontaneous performances), it's become a sort of film that will define the aesthetic of mid-2000s cinema. Beside physical aesthetic, the language and flow of the film becomes emblematic of the spirit of the decade--an ultimate celebration of diversity, a shabby chic approach to everything, a post-modern marriage (pardon the pun!) of different ethnicities, "looks", decor, music (peppered throughout the film is a wide, eclectic selection of guitar, sax, drums, pop, hip-hop, soul--definitely an artists' musical-gasm), behaviors (the conservative, the rebellious), etc. The familial diversity, and the mish-mash of everything paints a modern collage of a global yet still distinctly American culture. There's no denying, though, that an upper-class white family is at the center of this affair.

And so it goes: what is 'Rachel Getting Married' all about? White people problems? An ode to feminine destruction? Dysfunctional families? It's about all of those, and much more. At the eye of the storm is Kym, a twenty-something ex-drug addict & rehab product, whose life seems to have been already-obliterated by failed relationships, crushing guilt, and an implicit, unfair comparison to her near-perfect sister, Rachel. The dichotomy is obvious--Rachel and Kym share the same blood yet their lives couldn't have been more different. The wedding itself becomes a metaphor for Kym's life: a joyous occasion only to become spoiled by her. The intense, incredibly moving interactions between Rachel, Kym and their father reveal a deeper psychology and history, much more beyond the scope of the film itself.

'Rachel Getting Married' is a window into a community and into a person, that from the outside looks as ordinary as your next-door neighbor/s', but acknowledges this universal truth: humans hurt and get hurt. A lot. Kym, despite her youth and beauty and privileged status, holds a lot of scars that has held her back from experiencing true happiness and unity with her family. Kym has hurt her family, has hurt herself, has been hurt by others--in the end, we just wish she achieves peace and closure in her life.

Beautiful, masterful acting from Anne Hathaway (I am stunned by her in this: her expressions, her covert anger, her tics and the way her inner conflicts define the other characters' actions) + Rosemarie DeWitt's. Brilliant direction from Jonathan Demme. Props, too, for production designer Ford Wheeler and cinematographer Declan Quinn.

Rating: 8.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Katy Perry: Part of Me (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
The life, career and music of singer Katy Perry as we follow her on the California Dreams World Tour. (93 mins.)
“ Katy Perry, in the span of her explosive career, has provided the ultimate soundtrack to my teenage life. Nothing like being eighteen and down in the dumps, and listening to 'Firework' or 'Peacock'. Growing up in Santa Barbara to preacher parents, Katheryn Hudson's (her real name) destiny has been this: to be a megastar touring around the world--chasing your dreams and 'never giving up on yourself' is a mantra that isn't much truer than for this woman just shy of thirty.

A total 3D experience, the money I plunked down for this movie one afternoon was totally worth it. Going into a Katy Perry concert is a feast for the eyes: confection, wonder, fantasy, everything girly, everything pop, pink, peacock-y. As the film cuts to shots of crying faces and maddening crowds all over the industrialized world (Sao Paulo! Tokyo! Paris! LA!), you begin to realize the amazing gravity of Katy Perry's stardom. She truly is the 'Chairman and CEO' of Katy Perry, Inc., a concrete symptom of our uniquely 21st century celebrity worship. The revenue generated from just the tour could match the GDP of a third world country: merchandise (shirts! wigs! costumes! lights!), personnel, hotel and airfare, etc. that makes this popstar project just all the more legitimate.

KP needs to keep the engine running for her fans all over the world. But the film's heart lies in the personal narrative: an 18-year-old Katy Perry telling a camera her dreams, her visiting her grandmother in Vegas, her breaking down to pieces just at the height of her success (a sold-out show in Brazil). For a star at her peak, it's an intimate look as to how she's also bound to the scars that love can give.

There's a whole lot to take away from this film: the value of hardwork, persistence, friendship and family. The amazing sweet-as-cotton-candy and concert-level visuals don't hurt either.

Rating: 9/10 ” - couch_potato101
Super 8 (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
During the summer of 1979, a group of friends witness a train crash and investigate subsequent unexplained events in their small town. (112 mins.)
Director: J.J. Abrams
“ A group of middle American kids come together to make a home movie on a zombie invasion. Little do they know that another invasion has been taking place in their own turf. Just like Spielberg's and Abrams's childhoods, Super 8 closes in on the mind and matter of children: how their naive passions and innocence can undergo a dramatic transformation once outside elements disturb the peace. A fairly entertaining film, 'Super 8''s first half lends an interesting blend of mystery and freshness, while the second half suffers from the terrible cliches of disaster movies.

Definitely just an 'okay' effort from JJ Abrams (director MI3 and Star Trek). Elle Fanning was stunningly beautiful though. And the final product of the kids (the zombie movie) grace the credits and is probably the best part of the whole film itself.

Rating: 5/10 ” - couch_potato101
The Town (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
As he plans his next job, a longtime thief tries to balance his feelings for a bank manager connected to one of his earlier heists, as well as the F.B.I. Agent looking to bring him and his crew down. (125 mins.)
Director: Ben Affleck
No Reservations (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
The life of a top chef changes when she becomes the guardian of her young niece. (104 mins.)
Director: Scott Hicks
The Watch (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
Four men who form a neighborhood watch group as a way to get out of their day-to-day family routines find themselves defending the Earth from an alien invasion. (102 mins.)
Director: Akiva Schaffer
“ Watched with Chris at Shang. Set in a (fictional?) classic American town of Glenview, Ohio, 'The Watch' starts off with Ben Stiller's character Evan living the 'dream': a paying job, a picket fence, an insanely beautiful wife (hello, Rosemarie DeWitt AKA Rachel!), and a civic spirit that's hard to match. Evan's life is thrown off-balance when malevolent aliens from a galaxy far far away invade Glenview as a stepping stone for world domination. 'The Watch', despite its seemingly vapid plot premise, is insanely funny. Sex jokes, dick jokes, infertility jokes, alien jokes, race jokes, sci-fi trope jokes, name it you've got it. The dynamic among the funnymen Stiller, Vaughn (haven't lost his mojo), Hill and newcomer Richard Ayoade (as the cute Jamarcus) is the centerpiece of this movie, and hell yes, I will watch it again for a satisfying belly-laugh.

Rating: 8.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
The Goat (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
The billy goat has come down to earth with a mission - to prevent people from finding a treasure hidden near an ancient Thracian sanctuary... (110 mins.)
“ Set in mid-to-late-00s in the southeastern European country of Bulgaria (to be frank, a nation that's not too well-known to people my age, except maybe for being part of the Quidditch World Cup wink wink), 'The Goat' ('Kozelat') is one of those rugged films that, no matter obscure to usual tastes, deserves a viewing just because of the fact that it tells something about humanity at its most elemental form. 'The Goat' presents its issues in the sparsest manner possible, yet manages to deal with concepts of nationalism, territorialism, identity, loss and construction of culture, material possession, love, competition, family, friendship. The story's focal point, a billy goat, becomes sort of an omniscient character--wise, all-knowing--sort of a god that comes to earth to direct people in situations otherwise they wouldn't expect. It's touching to see how the characters in the film realize their humanity, form bonds over pettiness, and develop real affections for each other. A good insight into Bulgarian humor, culture, and film.

Rating: 5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Sonny Boy (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Forbidden love. (130 mins.)
Director: Maria Peters
Senna (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
A documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34. (106 mins.)
Director: Asif Kapadia
The Change-Up (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Dave is a married man with three kids and a loving wife, and Mitch is a single man who is at the prime of his sexual life. One fateful night while Mitch and Dave are peeing in a fountain, lightning strikes and they switch bodies. (112 mins.)
Director: David Dobkin
“ In a comedy as mainstream as you can get (hi Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman and Leslie Mann as the domineering housewife), The Change-Up despite its cliched storyline (ever heard of Freaky Friday?) promised to be funny, because, well, it's a body-being-exchanged movie! It's Ryan Reynolds' hotness in Jason Bateman's quirkiness or whatever! But The Change-Up manages to disappoint. Though funny at certain moments (love the part where Bateman's Dave's daughter Kara slams her bully-ballet classmate on the stage), the film doesn't live up to the expected hype of for example, seeing Jason Bateman play the uber-cool and sexy Mitch (a basic proxy of Reynolds' Hollywood image). Jason Bateman as Ryan Reynolds still feels like...Jason Bateman and vice versa. All in all, it shares a good lesson: don't take anything for granted, enjoy what you have and cherish your time here on earth. As a father, love and pay attention to your wife and kids. As a bachelor, be a responsible sexual being, be good to your dad (!), see the fishes, rollerblade, read out, etc. etc. Oh, and Olivia Wilde is super-duper hot. Would be straight for her.

Rating: 2.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Last Life in the Universe (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A suicidal, obsessively compulsive Japanese librarian is forced to lie low in Thailand with a pot-smoking woman coping with the recent loss of her sister. (112 mins.)
“ With lensman Christopher Doyle, HKSC at the helm of this Thai film's photography, 'Last Life' manages to successfully capture the biting alienation, ennui and otherwise quiet beauty one can experience in a foreign land. 'Last Life' is the tale of Kenji and Noe, intertwined by a common principle: having killed their siblings. This commonality among them becomes their primal bond, and as they meekly find out each others' trivial life details, we are hypnotized and hoping that something more will happen to them (eventually something does). 'Last Life', beyond its sparse drama and mood palate of greens, greys and browns set in the backdrop of Bangkok and sleepy Pattaya, is a story of a set of ideologies clashing together: cultures, personalities, language, food, identity, mannerism. Compare Noi's eclectic appearance and "bad-girl" behavior to Kenji's methodical and silent pain and one realizes this film can also be a metaphor for Thailand and Japan, Bangkok/Pattaya and Tokyo/Osaka. Both Kenji and Noi have the same problem, but react to it in opposite ways. Kenji's fascination with death is a touch similar to the Japanese tradition of harakiri--death for honor.

And so we do not know these two young peoples' motivation for life, even love. As sinister a reason they have for reuniting, it's great that for them, the gruesomeness of the past is just a chilly memory.

Rating: 7/10. 10/10 for Doyle's DP work. ” - couch_potato101
Vertigo (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her. (128 mins.)
“ Rated Number 1 in the recently concluded Sight and Sound Poll of 2012 (this is the film that toppled Citizen Kane's proud place after ten years), Vertigo is astoundingly an old film, almost 55 years and counting. What is it about 'Vertigo' that makes it a critics' favorite? For one, 'Vertigo' lends a manic appeal: beautiful and polished on the outside, crazy and hanging on for dear life deep down. What defines Madeleine Elster also defines this film--great to look at, but chilling, haunting, and utterly unforgettable (that last scene just before Judy falls to her death--the nun rising to the tower scene--will probably give me creeps 'til old age). 'Vertigo' has been touted as overrated and overlong, and we see the film's flaws as it progresses; but with Hitchcock at the directing role, one absolutely cannot ignore the usual motifs this master-filmmaker manages to include in his works (note: only other Hitchcock I've watched is Psycho): a chilling score (courtesy of Hermann), an older man and younger woman, the sense of madness and panic, old women, staircases, double identities, a blonde bombshell, investigation, searches, places clearly delineated (hotels, museums, towers...). These motifs lend his films a certain kind of greatness, and in the 21st century, iconic status.

'Vertigo' is able, in its two-hour running time, to include the gamut of human experience: beauty, love, death, insanity (the Carlotta Valdes story is as chilling as Rizal's Sisa) betrayal, obsession, power, control, speculation, mystery. Hitchcock is the god of film hysteria, and no one does it better.

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
East of Eden (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A wilful young man contends against his brother for the attention of their religious father while reconnecting with his estranged mother and falling for his brother's girlfriend. (118 mins.)
Director: Elia Kazan
“ Directed by towering Hollywood director Elia Kazan (On The Waterfront), "East of Eden" remains a classic that deserves each generation's multiple viewings. With a much-publicized 1955 New York premiere (with Marilyn Monroe in attendance, no less), an iconic actor then and now (James Dean), an a haunting tale of father and son based on John Steinbeck's novel, the film elevates the art of simple storytelling- using the universal elements of the search for identity and acceptance as its crux. Dean, in his youthful and charismatic early 20s, absolutely shines in the film, with movement and expression that transcends his decade. His persona in the film as a lonely and confused youth encompasses the multitudes of stories of people all over the world who struggle for meaning amidst an indifferent milieu. Jo Van Fleet also stars, who despite being older than Dean in the time of production is able to carry a certain lightness and luminosity that counter-balances Dean's weight. Overall, an excellent film.

Rating: 9.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
Wimbledon (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A pro tennis player has lost his ambition and has fallen in rank to 119. Fortunately for him, he meets a young player on the women's circuit who helps him recapture his focus for Wimbledon. (98 mins.)
“ "Wimbledon" rests on the premise that one can ultimately find love anywhere, even in the high-stakes, high-pressure elitist world of competitive tennis. In the film, a nubile, beautiful Kirsten Dunst plays Lizzie, one of the stars of the (fictional) Wimbledon extravaganza who seems to have it all- success, drive, beauty- except a domineering father wants her to stray her mind off of men, boys, sex. It all seems understandable, until Lizzie falls into the prey of Peter (Paul Bettany), a middling player on the verge of a wayward career. In the process of hiding their steamy relationship from the guardians, Peter and Lizzie learn more about themselves- Lizzie to loosen up, love life more, and Peter, to realize that a wayward career due to an "aging" trajectory isn't necessarily the way to go. "Wimbledon" is that film that ol' middle-aged guys will just love- Kirsten Dunst wear short shorts after all, and they can project their identities on this success of a tennis player. A good, romantic film to watch while spending the night in.

Rating: 6.5/10 ” - couch_potato101
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world. (102 mins.)
Director: Stephen Chbosky
“ High school marks one of the most emotionally fulfilling draining times in a person's life--the prospect of a failed love, the jolt of fast car rides, of smoking cigarettes behind the school lot, of locker room jokes, prom parties, sports games, music playlists, the promise of a new life and new being in college. 'Perks', directed by the author of the book himself, Stephen Chbosky, explores the dynamics of youth, friendship, and family and everything that comes with it: long-kept secrets, a quick kiss, a tragic event buried, hidden somewhere in the heart. 'Perks', also, becomes the jumping point for the ferociously talented Ezra Miller, and an opportunity for Hollywood acceptance for Emma Watson. Logan Lerman, at the lead, plays the 'wallflower' Charlie: a quiet teenage boy--virginal, ready for picking. His keen observations become the heart and engine of the film--suggesting a certain freshness and innocence to everything. It's true: your high school years are the years you discover yourself, when you discover what's absolutely wrong about the world, and what's absolutely right.

Rating: 6/10 ” - couch_potato101
Forever James Dean (1988 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
(60 mins.)
Director: Ara Chekmayan
“ "Forever James Dean" rings true today as it did in 1988 (a time when I wasn't even born yet)- James Dean, that young man who died as a handsome 24-year-old, is the very definition of classic Hollywood icon- an icon different from the mold of Cary Grant or Gregory Peck, but an icon for the ages. James Dean, in his hot stares, well-built frame, cool head of hair and rebel fashion sense, will always endear himself to the youth, who have always thought themselves to be beautiful, rebellious creatures. It's no wonder, too, that monuments and museums have been built in his memory. James Dean, as a symbol of eternal youth and charisma, will forever be immortalized in celluloid and stone. Hooray for Dean and this documentary (part of the East of Eden special features DVD)

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
The affair between a politician and a contemporary dancer is affected by mysterious forces keeping the lovers apart. (106 mins.)
Director: George Nolfi
“ "The Adjustment Bureau" is ill-inducing to watch. No, it's not a crap film, in fact, the arresting tale of David (a politican, played by Matt Damon) and Elise (a New York modern dancer, played by the British Emily Blunt) will leave you cheering for them on and on and on as they defy the literal agents of "fate"- dark men in suits who are determined to shape lives, prevent further connections from happening, and in this overt prevention stop any love from taking place. David, in his fiery determination and love for Elise, runs madly through the streets of New York City to find the woman of his dreams - and in this actual process of seeing Matt Damon as David we become ill- ill in the awareness that someone is actually that daring and that brave to defy the odds, defy fate, destiny. We are ill in the realization that we too must defy destiny and shape our own, because in that defiance we find true happiness. An adrenalin rush-inducing film- one part thriller-mystery and one-part romance.

Rating: 8/10 ” - couch_potato101
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A year after their father's funeral, three brothers travel across India by train in an attempt to bond with each other. (91 mins.)
Director: Wes Anderson
“ As beautiful and as quirky as any other Wes Anderson movie, 'Darjeeling Limited' reads like a postcard--beautiful, short, and somehow nothing sort of substantial. 'Darjeeling' is amazingly shot, perhaps a bit fantastical to portray India as it truly is, but the curry yellows and jades and dusty browns bring you in. The photography, then, is the centerpiece of this film, moreso than its three (emotionally broken) characters connected by the usual issues: family, romance, spiritual loss. A trip to Asia to search for their long-lost mother, the three men (who look quite GQ in their Milena Canonero outfits) eventually find themselves. Beautiful.

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
Magic Mike (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A male stripper teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women, and make easy money. (110 mins.)
“ "Magic Mike" reads like Channing Tatum's biography (started stripping at 18/19 years old, becomes immersed in that world of the flesh trade, eventually escapes that world), except "Magic Mike", despite what the promotional media and trailers would like you to think, is dark and dank and dirty and not at all funny-sexy as expected. Alex Pettyfer plays Adam, a lost 19-year-old bum suddenly employed in the construction business, but is eventually lured into the business of male bodies by older, more experienced Mike (Tatum).

There's no business like the business of showing bodies, and in this film Steven Soderbergh soberly exposes the lengths by which young men are expected to entertain the female/gay audience- dressing up as firemen, as Ken dolls, etc., only to fill the thirst of this hungry pack who come in night after night to put dollar bills in boys' underwear. But the glamour and sexiness soon wear off, as drugs, money, and the overall instability of a career as a male stripper (take aging, for example) reveal their ugly heads.

"Magic Mike", ultimately, like the business it depicts, falls flat on its face- we were expecting hard bodies and screaming women, abs and asses all around, but reality creeps in like a fall from a drug high.

Rating: 7/10 ” - couch_potato101
Of the Flesh (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
(123 mins.)
“ The late great Filipina director herself calls "Karnal"'s images "gothic" and "ahead of its time"- statements which ring true thirty years later, even as I watch the film on a poorly transferred VCD copy. "Karnal", set in the 20s/30s in rural Northern Luzon (the story could have taken place in any backwater town in any of the Philippines's seven thousand islands), tells the tale of a woman gone mad, and a man driven by paranoia and anger to commit probably one of the most chilling acts captured in Philippine cinema: parricide by beheading. "Karnal" opens up to a wealth of Freudian analysis in this sense: the son challenging the father sexually, materially, the wife's fantasies emanating from her unfulfilled emotional needs, the social milieu debating and gossipping over hearsay. "Karnal" then is an outstanding essay on human motivation and psychology, helmed by two of the most talented figures in the industry (Ricky Lee as writer, Diaz-Abaya as director).

Rating: 9/10 ” - couch_potato101