The Avengers: Age of Ultron

April 22 saw me trooping to the mall initially to see the Manny Pacquiao biopic Kid Kulafu. Instead, we found that the movie was no longer showing and in its place was the newest Avengers movie.

I honestly had no plans of watching the movie on the big screen because I knew (and I was right) that it would be nothing but explosions and smashing and city property getting damaged and heroes getting bruised and alien tech being used. Nevertheless, I was still excited to see the next installment since I had seen the previous movies in the same universe (Guardians of the Galaxy included).

This latest movie, despite having a stand-alone story, exists as part of a series, and by that I don’t just mean The Avengers series. I know you know what I mean, so I won’t delve deeper into that. What I do want to talk about is how Ultron was completely unexpected for me.

I am what you’d call a casual Marvel fan. I just watch the movies for the pure entertainment of watching them. I don’t go around in costume, nor do I join fan-targetted or organized events. I do not write fanfiction. I just like the movies and gush over… well, none of them, to be honest. Therefore, allow me to say that I did not expect much from the movie.

However, Ultron was still a bit underwhelming for me. Coming from the big bad alien war of the first movie, I thought there’d be something similar in this one, and I thought Ultron (the character) was that big bad alien.

(minor spoilers under the cut)

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Kingsman (2015)

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If there ever was a movie for which the adjective “mind-blowing” would be appropriate, then this would be it.

Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the story of Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) who gets recruited by super secret spy Harry Hart/Gallahad (Colin Firth).

The film plays on the traditional/old-fashioned spy movies and refers to those frequently. You have your megalomaniac who seeks to change the world through “questionable” means, the gentleman super spy who can kick ass in a bespoke suit, and the young recruit looking to prove himself.

Pretty straightforward and simple, right?

The shocker for me was not in the fact that Colin Firth–the quintessential, gentleman, the man whom other men have to live up to no thanks to his Mr. Darcy role–could plausibly disarm and bring down an entire congregation of people. The shocker for me was the violence.

The local R-16 was lenient, in my opinion. But then again my judgment could be tainted by my teacher ways, so let me rephrase that.

Kingsman takes the word “secret” to a while new level. It had disguised itself as a thoroughly proper and respectable and sort of generic spy movie with the added twist of the secret agency literally being super secret that not even the world’s most popular secret service agencies knew about their existence. They were like the Illuminati except that they were the good guys. The lack of dark overtones in the film processing* and the very few but appropriately placed humorous moments gave one the impression that THERE WAS NOTHING TO BE HORRIFIED ABOUT.

BUT.

(I’m sorry. The font size was necessary for this.)

I

WAS

HORRIFIED.

In a good way.

I’m not quite sure how “horrified in a good way” works, so let me just ramble a bit.

You know how the James Bond movies or other super spy movies always look gritty on screen or have these dark gray or blue color overlay (someone with film tech know-how help me quick!) to emphasize the dankness and the seriousness of the film? WELL, Kingsman was all oranges and yellows and blues and greens and purples. It was colorful. It was bright. It was clean. It was so neat you’d be afraid of eating flavored popcorn for fear of soiling your fingers.

PLUS Colin Firth was such a perfect and poised gentleman that when he finally brought out the moves your mouth just drops and you find yourself leaning forward in your seat while cringing or cowering or all of the above.

Mind-blowing? Definitely. LITERALLY, even.

Secretive? You bet. Who the hell knew Mr. Darcy could move like that? Who the hell knew he could disarm, dismember, behead, maim, kill people with the speed and agility of a champion martial artist and the poise of an aristocrat?

Who knew Samuel L. Jackson could be more annoying than ever? (personal bias, sorry. Not a big fan of the dude)

Who knew a more violent mainstream movie than Kill Bill could exist?

This movie isn’t all about the shock factor, though.

Once you get past the blood and gore and the impeccably tailored suits, you realize that movie makes some pretty compelling points.

One: we humans are the disease killing our planet. What happens when the body gets infected by a virus? The body gets feverish in an attempt to get rid of the virus. Bottomline? The virus dies. Mother Nature is the body, global warming is the fever, and we are the virus. WE die.

Some people might think this is just trivial in an action movie, but, for me, the analogy makes so much sense that it’s hard to ignore. I’m not going to wait for a Richmond Valentine to come and help Mother Nature along. None of us should.

Two: Women. I was going to say that women play a huge role in this film until I realized that there were only two major female characters here, and even then they were only in supporting roles. Roxy and Gazelle were pretty badass, but they still play second-fiddle to the men. Although the movie shows that women are just as competent (MORE, even) as men, the movie also shows that they still need to be tempered by the men. Roxy needed Eggsy to calm her down before the skydiving exercise. Gazelle was too bloodthirsty that she needed Valentine’s weak stomach to rein her in from shedding more blood. I’d personally like to see a movie where both hero and villain are female, and I’d like for this to be a serious movie and not a comedy like what we usually have here locally (Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah comes to mind even though technically the protagonist is a guy).

Three: Times are a-changing. Gadgets, particularly our smartphones, can be mankind’s downfall.

There really is so much about this movie that one can say. Colin Firth was perfect. Whatever doubt I had that he could move like a lean mean killing machine flew out the window when I saw his action sequences. Taron Egerton was just as amazing. I’d have wanted to see him do more parkour, though. Roxy was underdeveloped. I wish we had seen more of her spy abilities. Gazelle was just absolutely wicked.

Watch it.

Watch IT.

WATCH IT.

—–

*I’m not a film expert, so I don’t know the terminology.

Wrapping up the year with more movies

Persuasion (1995)

It’s Austen; come on. Of course I had to watch this again.

9 years they put their emotions on hold, and they thought they were done with each other. Fate, in the form of an extravagant minor royal of a father, brings the two back together in each other’s lives. Anne Elliot knows she still has feelings for him, but what of Wentworth? Has he gotten over her?

I always love watching this movie because it was in the little things that showed how both characters truly felt for each other: the nervous glance, the glare, the helping hand, the indifferent look, the angry message, the restrained and stiff stance, the dismissive meeting,

THE LETTER.

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It’s the polar opposite of Austen’s most iconic work, Pride and Prejudice, which was all about big and grand gestures. I find myself appreciating the nuances of the protagonists’ actions.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Local and formal balls and sweeping declarations of love (albeit faulty and prejudiced and biased) and loud family members and love, love, LOVE.

As far as romances go, this could be the ancestor of modern-day romantic-comedies. Miscommunication and misunderstandings and bruised egos. This could easily be turned into a comedy of errors, but because Austen has written this so well, it would seem sacrilege to turn this into anything but a beautiful romantic film.

Oh just thinking of that sunrise meeting once again makes me melt.

English Only, Please (2014)

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I’ve gotten glimpses of reviews that have declared this as THE romantic comedy for the A/B market here in the Philippines. I’d agree with them if I hadn’t seen That Thing Called Tadhana first, but that’s for a different post.

In any case, I agree with the suggestion that the romantic-comedy films in this country are substandard and unintelligent and cheesy. There is no wit in the storytelling nor beauty in the cinematography. Horrible wigs proliferate in the local romance films (comedy or drama, it’s the same horrible wigs)taking one’s attention away from the story and directing it to that mop of turd on the actors’ heads.

In THIS movie, though, there are no such distractions. You can focus on the story, on the characters, on the dialogue. You can focus on male lead Derek Ramsay as his character tries in vain to speak Filipino well even though in reality, he actually speaks the language fluently. You can focus on Kean Cipriano’s role as the asshole boyfriend and scream, “TANGINA MO!” at him in the cinema (yes, it really happened). You can focus on Jennylyn Mercado who really is just perfect for the role. She was feisty and intelligent but stupid when it came to love.

Which brings me to the writer, Antoinette Jadaone.

She has three films that I know of under her belt: Beauty in a Bottle, That Thing Called Tadhana, and English Only, Please.

All three movies seemed to revolve around how people become stupid in love.  It makes you wonder how long she can work this angle without getting formulaic (notice the text inserts/commentary in all three films).

Footnote: The cafe scenes were shot in Cool Beans Library Cafe along Maginhawa St., Teacher’s Village, Quezon City.

A Christmas Wedding Date (2012)

This is a TV movie starring Marla Sokoloff whom I remember from Sugar and Spice and The Practice (TV). It was Christmas-themed, it was romance, so I watched it. It was meh as far as TV movies go, but it was still a pretty decent time-waster.

More movies

What If (Danielle Radcliffe)

Didn’t finish it.

Death At A Funeral

Skipped some (ahem. A lot of) parts.

Beauty In A Bottle

Last part put me in a semi-permanent state of cringe.

Overall, it was hilarious. 🙂

She’s Dating The Gangster

I was surprised. This was actually very good.

Films over the break

Before Sunrise (1995)

Before Sunrise (1995)

Dialogue. Pure dialogue.

It is INSANE.

Only INSANE people would stick around to watch a movie in which nothing happens.

Two people explore a European city and do nothing but talk. And kiss sometimes, but mainly they just talk.

I put off watching this movie because of that, and I suppose what changed this time is that I had nothing else better to do and a friend had repeatedly enthused over this. It helped, as well, that he volunteered to watch “with” me.

I’m glad I did.

Jesse and Celine’s conversations and musings are definitely not for everybody, but in my opinion, everybody who watches the movie–and I mean really pays attention to the movie (I had to rewind some parts because I was chatting on Facebook)–comes away with some sort of self-realization. I don’t know what my personal realization is yet, but the only thing I DO know after watching this is that I identified so much with Celine. I don’t identify with her experiences, but it seemed that everything she said in that movie I could relate with.

No.

I’ve THOUGHT those things also. Perhaps it was good that I put off watching this movie until now because I don’t think this movie would have made much sense to me if I had seen this when I was younger. I don’t think it’d have meant as much as it does now.

This kind of begs the question: what DOES it mean to me now?

This movie has in no way made me want to suddenly carpe the diem out of my life, but it has made me think about how I feel about things. I’m a pretty emotional person, but I’ve always been able to rationalize my feelings away, and as I watched Celine and Jesse exhaust the night away in conversation, I started to think why the hell I haven’t seized the frikkin day when I could have?

The whole movie, to me, was an exercise in spontaneity. Even though all that happened was mainly conversation, the act of sharing to a complete stranger and spending a whole day with A COMPLETE STRANGER is a spontaneous act, isn’t it? And it had to take SOME level of trust that what was going to happen was going to be life-changing in a good way. And here’s my realization, I suppose: that I’ve never been able to trust anybody completely.

Oh wait.

That’s not really new.

I suppose the movie just brought that back up to the surface.

I don’t know anymore.

My brain has stopped processing the movie.

Goodbye, world.

I’m going to watch a new movie:

What If with Daniel Radcliffe.

Tadhana

 

Tadhana – fate

That Thing Called Tadhana is a beautiful movie.

Two scenes hit me hardest:

1. When Mace was hauling her luggage up then down the pedestrian overpass.

Mabagal at mabigat, pero kaya.

2. When Mace was shouting her emotions out over a gorgeous mountain view and crying at the same time.

Ayoko na!

I’ve always felt scenes like that were ridiculous, but then I realize I could be judging people who do that as annoyingly pretentious people who do it because they saw it in a movie or something.

But there was something about Mace’s tears that tugged at me, that made me realize that I actually need such a release. Perhaps not on a grand scale like the one in the movie, but something that will bring about that desired cathartic effect.

Fitting movie choice, considering that I had reservations about today. I was in a foul mood at some parts of the day because of certain incidents, text messages, thoughts, words uttered, and generally horrible weather.

In hindsight, I believe that tadhana made this day happen. I learned a lot of things about myself, friends…people in general.

I’m glad today happened. I really wasn’t looking forward to this day, but now I’m glad it did.

For movie dates with friends to hours on end just talking and having someone REALLY LISTEN TO YOU WITHOUT JUDGMENT (whether perceived or real) or INTERRUPTION… Moments such as these are rare for me because it takes a lot for me to open up. THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

Today would make for excellent material for a movie, in my opinion. I can picture the scenes in my head already.

Sana Dati (2013)

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The movie goes by If Only in English, right?

I finished watching the movie approximately 15 minutes ago, and while I am in love with the movie, I find myself at a loss for words to explain this love.

So I shall do what I usually do in cases of word-depravation (see? I can’t even find the right word for this case), I shall do free writing and blabber and hope I end up with a pretty good entry for the day.

And there are spoilers here, so if you haven’t seen the movie and you want to, skip if you don’t want spoilers.

———-

Where do I begin?

It’s a love story, and, being the hopeless romantic that I am, of course I love this movie. I think.

And then there’s the rub. In love you don’t think, right? You do crazy things. Like forget to take your meds, you little love fool (I so want to use that word I used in my chat but no).

But why does love have to be irrational? Why ugh.

I’ll just talk about Robert.

I LIKE HIM.

He’s a good guy. I thought he’d be horrible after discovering that he was a politician, but his answer to a question during the wedding video interview made me think otherwise. He said that he stopped being a politician because you can’t be a public servant and a politician at the same time. It was impossible. I like that he went into politics really wanting to make positive changes in society, but I don’t like that he quit because it kind of implies a lack of a backbone. And his dad mentions other things he didn’t push through with, and you kind of get this picture that he’s a weak guy, that he’s a guy without any strong convictions.

But all of those changed when he said during his wedding vows, “Sigurado ako na mahal kita. Sigurado ako sa’yo.” At that time, what hurt was the knowledge that those were the exact lines Andrea’s ex told her. The same ex that Andrea still loves.

God. Her face when he said that line. She forced a smile. She recognized that line.

And Robert’s face was just agony. How can I make her see that I love her? How can I make her understand? How can I ease her pain? Because dammit you know that he knows she’s in pain. And all he could do was wait helplessly at the side. One could argue this was another sign of weakness, but oh no. When he says during a private moment that he’s always known about the ex, you realize that he’s loved her truly madly deeply and unconditionally. He’s just been there all this time, loving her. (dammit I’m crying) He doesn’t care that she doesn’t love him back. He doesn’t care that she wasn’t ready. I think that he nearly broke down during the vows because he knew he could be forcing her into something she didn’t want to at that time. I don’t know. My mind’s a mess right now.

But one thing is clear. Robert’s love shone through in the end. It was patient. It was understanding. It was clear and pure and unconditional. What he liked in his backbone, his heart more than made up for it. He was sure of his love for her.

And when she took his hand, you know that she finally knew it, she finally understood it, she finally felt it and she was able to love him back.

Excuse me while I cry.