Saturday, August 31, 2013


Year: 2012 | Directed by: Régis Roinsard | Roundup Rating: B+

When it comes to quirkiness, the French has mastered its art and will always take the top prize. From time to time I do enjoy watching a good and relaxing laid back French romantic comedies, even if they come as average when compared to their Nouvelle Vague predecessors. 

There are plenty of contemporary French films (well besides from Amelie) that turns out surprisingly good, but you just have to take a closer look and do your research in order to find them. Some can be considered a real gem, while there are others that are quite so-so in my opinion. Although I wouldn't go as far as to label Populaire by Régis Roinsard in the latter category as I do think it doesn't rightfully belong there and it deserve at least some credit for trying its best to become a crowd pleaser. After all, not everyone are pseudo-intellectuals, most audiences still prefer a movie that would require them less brain activity, something that would take the load off from their daily lives -- just plain enjoyment pure and simple. 

Populaire is similar to those Hollywood romantic comedy films but with a French twist and quirk to it. It is a nice throwback movie for the 50s, and I wouldn't go to all the cultural stereotypes during this decade in order to stay on track with my review. 

Subjectively speaking, there are bits of this movie that were on trope with my real life. First is the name of the two female characters, Rose (Deborah Francois) and Marie (Berenice Bejo), which happens to be my true name combined. Just like Rose Pamphyle, I am an exceedingly good and fast typist in real life, both with a typewriter and computer. And if there was an ongoing sport for typing I would have joined those competitions in order to give my life some sense of purpose and meaning to it. 

During the 50s it is odd for a woman to have a special skill on anything unrelated to household chores, it sets her apart from the rest, and it makes her difficult to be loved. If you are a feminist watching this movie can be either an excruciating experience or a proud moment. I enjoy it best when Louis (Romain Duris) treats Rose as his equal, he trains her, pushes her to be a champion and expects her to have a self-fulfilling career. In a way our real feminist icon here is our male protagonist. Rose is just a fledgling, and she's still got a lot of learning to do. 

The Cinderella story element is commendable especially in its quest to showing us women that hard work (pays off and it) always beats the impossible. The anticipation and the excitement of the typing competitions proves nothing short of exhilarating, just like the characters I often bet on Rose to losing over her opponents because of my intense desire to see her win. I guess the irony of winning-losing is realized immediately by Roinsard. The only thing I didn't like much are its cheesy bits before the very end that reduced this film into a standard romantic cliche. The backstage confession and the last minute kissing scene is crap, the French can always get away from not showing us these unnecessary last-minute details, however they did and it cost this film to lose some of its unique Gallic charm. 

The art, production set, costume design and its matching soundtrack has perfectly captured the French yesteryear's look, fired up in all cylinders, not just superficially but more so convincingly. All in all every facets of the movie played cohesively and it reinforced my love for the fashion sense of this decade. It is fascinating how the French can whip a story from the ordinary-everyday, like secretaries and typing machines, and transform that idea into something whimsical and colorful like a bag of candies. 

Movies are supposed to be our shining beacon in our tunnel of dark and I hope this motion picture will lighten up your day as it did mine. Cheerios!

Quote: Gin no Saji

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Favorite Sequence: Kill Bill Vol. 2

Tarantino explained brilliantly the analogy and psyche of superheroes for this scene, particularly that of Superman/Clark Kent. In all honesty, this is the only time I've had real appreciation for the so-called "Man of Steel". Of course, QT as always is pure genius here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

This Guy's in Love With You - Herb Alpert

Sometimes a girl just needs to be loved. So my co-pilot why are you torturing me so? #SeekingAFriendBroughtMeHere

On The Job - Trailer

Hail kingdom come, tomorrow the deed is done. Regardless of the studio that produced this film (Star Cinema) and the lead actors that I'm obviously not a fan of (Piolo Pascual and Gerald Anderson) I'll be putting aside my prejudices and will watch this movie may it be on Wednesday or Thursday. It is a rare opportunity to watch a high caliber movie made by Filipinos for the big screen -- and this one made it at Cannes, not a small feat indeed.

Upcoming Movies - Summer Previews

We're already half of 2013 and some of the films from Cannes and Sundance are making its way into the big screen. Just like yours truly I'm pretty quite sure that everyone is stoked to see movies that shows some promise, may it be mainstream or indie. I'm building up my list little by little before the award seasons and this preview page is just the beginning. Check it out!

La vie d'Adele / Blue is the Warmest Color (Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche)
Everyone who is an ardent follower of Festival de Cannes would want to see this year's Palme d'Or winner, whether they are gay or straight. I'm singularly eyeing this one out for several reasons. One, it was based on a best selling graphic novel. Two, I've never seen a Kechiche film before so I'm curious. Three, I'm in for exploring the complexities of human nature, I've always felt that it's a job and that's mine for the taking. Four, it is critically acclaimed and it won gallantly at Cannes. Five, it's in French. And last but not least, it's a love story...and I'm a sucker for any types regardless of its nature or gender.

Don Jon (Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
Since his comeback, JGL proved to be one of the best talent's in the movies. He has an eye for a good project and it is obvious in the string of successful motion pictures he did for the past few years. Based on his multimedia website HitRecordJoe Gordon-Levitt's abilities not only revolves around acting but also to other forms of creative endeavors. So it's only a matter of time for him when to write and direct his own. And here it is. Originally titled Don Jon's Addiction at this year's Sundance Film Festival, this is Joe's first foray into the world of film making and it sure looks like we are in it for a treat. Forget Scarlett Johansson, I'm all in for Joe. 

Ain't Them Bodies Saints (Directed by David Lowery)
Based on the clip I'm pretty sure you think this film is directed by Terrence Malick. Well, I think everyone did. since it gives off an impression and reminder of his several works like Badlands, Days of Heaven, Tree of Life and To the Wonder. But nope, this not a Malick film. I'm not really a fan of Western movies (or Casey Affleck in general), but the reviews were solid and good and that's how I roll. 

The Family (Directed by Luc Besson)
Whether you're a fan or not of Luc Besson you'll have to admit that this movie looks funny. Robert De Niro is playing another gangster character but this time around it's for humor and not just for the blood and the violence. It looks hilarious and over the top so I'm putting it up here as one of my must-see's. 

The Book Thief (Directed by Brian Percival)
I have the book where this movie was based on and it's not really the most easiest to read in my opinion. But you have to take in to account that it was set during the grotesque period of World War II. I'm really looking forward to this movie. I love children's books and this one is not an exemption. I just irked with the voice over narration in the preview, I think it's too 90s and we're way past that. So could someone take that goddamn thing off, please. 

Quote: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

"I've never seen two people more in love. And I think that's the reason I can never settle for anything less than amazing. They made it look so easy."
- Keira Knightley/Penny Lockhart by, Lorene Scafaria

Seeking A Friend For the End of the World

Year: 2012 | Directed by: Lorene Scafaria | Roundup Rating: B+

Considering there'a huge pile up of movies in my closet that needs to be taken cared of before another year ends I've decided to watch films all day. And in this particular day -- after a few minutes stint of The Walking Dead episode 1 season 1 -- I had the sudden urge to pick this Steve Carell and Keira Knightley movie on a random basis. 

First of all, I have no high hopes for this movie. In my opinion, it's a Hollywood comedy and that's all there is to it. You've seen one, you've seen them all. Basically it's the same reason for me deciding to delay watching it for about a year. But if there is something true about first opinions is that they are more often wrong than not, they don't last and they could even surprised you. I was remissed about this whole movie. At first I thought it was going to be one of those blockbuster comedy hits that people keep on talking about but ended up really forgettable despite of their good reviews. Seeking a Friend (well the title is really a mouthful so we'll just cut it down for this blog) is an enjoyable comedy film with a pulse of reality and a heart. 

Imagine if the world is coming to an end because an asteroid is set to struck down on earth what would you do? This is the central subject of the movie, a grim one at that, but our main characters Dodge (Carell) and Penny (Knightley) showed us what is really important in life when you are near the inevitable end of everything, without losing all the humor and fun within the story. Dodge was abandoned by his wife and suddenly becomes nostalgic about the one that got away. Penny on the other hand is a romantic who wants to be with her family before the apocalypse. The two set on a journey to find Dodge's first love and to find Penny a plane to take her home. I'm not really good with story telling so I'll skip writing the plot and instead say what I really think about the movie. 

First, all the scenarios were perfect. I think people would do crazy things once they knew that the world is coming to an end. They would quit their jobs, shut down their businesses, leave their partners, have meaningless sex with someone, let their childrens drink liquor, vandalized the streets, set fire on properties and so forth. Everyone dying at the same time means that no one is going to be left behind. Married or unmarried you won't die alone. But even though we do act crazy it's our desire to be with the people that we care about or love that takes the top hat as our number one priority in life. The story is funny but the comedy doesn't take away the reality. 

I love how unexpected Carell and Knightley's chemistry was. In the story it shows us that it's not how long you knew people but how you connect with them. You can be with someone for a really long time and yet you might not mesh together with them. He's old and miserable, she is young and cheerful, they don't seem to click right away but it's their inner vibes, their connection and ability to understand each other that makes them really compatible. Sometimes you look at people and you think that you have nothing in common with them only to be amazed at your conversations that there is something more to that person than meets the eye. He can be boring to others but you still like him anyway. 

Because this is a comedy what I had in mind at first is that the asteroid is going to be a fluke and that the day of reckoning is only  for show since our lead cast found love during such a hopeless time and place. But our writer did not fall trap to the machinations of the usual Hollywood formula. Instead it went straight ahead with the plan. Spoiler alert, our characters died but I think it's for a real happily ever after since they spend their last day's together side by side, in-love with each other, with a happy smile on their faces. What more can you ask for? It's the perfect ending to a really good story, couple with a lovely song by Burt Bacharach. 

The song selection for this movie is also fantastic. Most of the tracks is a reminiscent of the good old days of vinyl since Penny loves records a lot and you can see her carrying some throughout the movie. But my favorite tracks are the closing theme by Burt Bacharach and the song by The Hollies.  On the actors, Keira Knightley is comically endearing, this time around she is not your usual go-to girl for classic novels, she is a mess, someone you can relate to for a change, and she couldn't even get away from speeding even with her face. Steve Carell is more on a drama side for this movie, which is a good thing because actor's are supposed to be versatile and that's what we get from him here. 

All in all, I think this is going down to be one of my favorite quirky romantic-comedy movies, it's sweet and strange and it stayed true to its comedy roots without being typical. So that's it. I wish you'll give this movie a shot. Watch it when you have the time and I assure you that you'll really enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Punch-Drunk Love

Year: 2002 | Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson | Roundup Rating: A

Paul Thomas Anderson never cease to amazed me. He is truly one of the  best living filmmakers around and definitely one of my top favorites.  I've been wanting to see Punch-Drunk Love for ages but I never got the  chance...until now. Punch-Drunk Love is a romantic film, and if you're  a fan of PT Anderson you would know that it doesn't always happen in  his repertoire. Basically the subject of loneliness, alienation and  the craving for human contact is there, which is a recurring theme in  his films. 

Adam Sandler's character, Barry Egan, has seven doting and  emasculating sisters; he is self-sufficient, runs and owns his own  company but remains to be relationship less at his age. Although he  appears to be a nice guy he has some problems with aggression. When he  gets angry over something he loses control and he trashes things  around him. Sandler is famous for being a comedic actor. He made his  career from being funny, but this movie  was able to showcased his  various acting skills. I actually got carried away with the scene  where he was talking to his brother in-law pleading him to get him a  psychiatrist because he is really lonely. In my opinion, he was that  desperate to have someone to talk to, to the point of phoning a sex  hotline just to have some faceless bimbo listen to him for once.

It is strange for me to be watching this film at this particular moment of my life because not only I could relate to Adam Sandler's  character but I know exactly how it feels to be lonely like him. It's  frustrating to crave for attention, especially if you've been on that  path for a really long time. You just want to scream to the world,  "okay, I'm exhausted can somebody please help me out of here!" But  nobody really listens, nobody gives a damn, especially if they find  you useless in their lives. When Barry Egan was running for his life  because some crooks is after his money it rings a bell to me how sad  when the only people chasing after you are from rip off companies,  petty thieves and credit card collectors. Sometimes you can't help the  desire (of wanting) to kill yourself. After all, human beings are  engineered to love and be loved. How can you have that basic desire if  nobody, not even a single soul, cares for you. So Barry starts to buy  these grocery food items from Healthy Choices in order to collect  frequent flier miles so he could travel the world. He is tired of  being lonely so he felt the need to stop living with himself by being  somewhere else far away from his obnoxious family. 

The silver lining of the story is the arrival of Lena (Emily Watson).  She is a strange girl, with a strange taste. And she likes him a lot  despite of what his sisters said about him. In my opinion, that's the  whole thing about attraction. You see something special about someone  and it may not be a shared point of view, but it doesn't really matter  as long as you are satisfied. In a world full of people chances are we  would find someone (equally strange) who would love and accept us for who we are. I think that's the whole thing about this movie, although  there's nothing really poetic about it, but the realistic touch of the  story is really beautiful and deep. We are carried into life not  removed from it. Through Lena we saw the importance of going after what we want and just seizing the moment. If she did not gave him her number or made the first move nothing will happen. So it's important to take our chances when it's right there in front of us and if we let it go we are also letting go of our own opportunity to be happy. 

If you've never seen any movie by Paul Thomas Anderson it is best to  start with Punch-Drunk Love because comedy and romance is easier to  take in, especially if you are not that adept to characters that are  dark and bitter. This is a really good film and it's totally different from his previous and later works. What more can I say, I'm a fan. 


"Music is one of the only places you can truly forget yourself, travel in your mind, become someone else or make a moment eternal. You can revisit what you felt just by putting on that song again. And you're right back there...Falling in love, heartbroken, lost, found and lost again...Living."
- Andrea Corr, Lifelines (album)

The Wind Rises - Trailer

I am quite excited to finally see the trailer for Hayao Miyazaki's latest film "The Wind Rises" which just had its premiere on Japan and will be part of this year's TIFF roster. Since I live in a country where the best option to watch movies like this is through the internet it would take me a few months before I can catch a full glimpse of this one. For now, this Miyazaki fan girl will just feast her eyes on this preview until my favorite anime websites released a full copy of this movie online. Cheerios! 

Un amour de jeunesse

Year: 2012 | Directed by: Mia Hansen-Løve | Roundup Rating: A-

It comes easy for me to relate to Un amour de jeunesse, and I expect  every one will, because no one is exempted from being heart broken. The story between Camille (acted beautifully by Lola Créton) and Sullivan traverses from their youth into the next decade; from their obsessive young love and  separation, journey into adulthood, reunion until their ultimate parting ways. At one point I find her pathetic for holding on to him like  there was no tomorrow. And I agree with Sullivan that they should have their own life experiences in order not to be bored with each other.  But then again, when you are a young girl love blinds you. Nobody can  claim that they've been wise with their relationship during their  youth. What we are is either a reckless or a fool. 

This isn't one of those French films that serves only to confound its  viewers or to show some skin, but I think this movie allows us viewers  a chance to reflect on our own loves and it gives us that necessary  feeling that we are not alone in the world. In my opinion, a great art  is a give and take relationship -- it is not masturbation.   

Mia Hansen-Løve's bittersweet love letter to first love is both  sincere and heart-wrenching. There was never a moment of fakery for  the sake of awesomeness. If I was ten years younger when I saw this  movie I would have said that Sullivan is an arsehole. But time has a  funny way of soothing our wounds open like a balm. In fact, most of my  untoward opinions is directed to Camille, only because I can see in  her my own stupidity back then. Maybe I didn't do the same things she  did or go to the same lengths for the sake of love, but needless to  say I am reminded of the many nights I cried for someone, which is  very much laughable now in retrospect. I was constantly rooting for  her to have a successful career after they broke up and then I fell in love with her relationship with the architect because what they have  together is not something childish. It is a mutually satisfying  relationship between two adults, which involves respect, understanding  and maturity, something that you can only appreciate when you're  older. 

I do love this movie a lot and I would watch it again in a heartbeat.  I feel like it is a time capsule and a rite of passage for everyone  who's been on the same road before. Like the best way to find  ourselves is by losing ourselves. As expected, French films do not elaborate much on details with the ending and I think this movie  ended the way it's supposed to be. I've gained my own closure when the  hat flew into the river and she loses all care for it. Life's like that, you have to go with the flow. It's perfect. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Bon Anniversaire to my dearest friend Astaire Tin (aka Mrs Naessens). She's that one person in my book that I can drag along with me to visit museums (even when the weather is on a heavy downpour), have fun in Enchanted Kingdom, dine in at expensive restaurants...etc. Although I am quite sad to no longer be able to hang out with her, and yet at the same time I am glad that she's gone abroad to live blissfully with her husband. Because of her the cynic in me ( know that fully) makes me believe that true love can be found in the most unanticipated time and place. So regardless of her absence here in the Philippines I am wishing her all the best, may it be in the aspect of love, life and career, and I hope that we'll meet Europe so we can travel the entire continent by train (or explore the gallantry of the Louvre). A la prochaine! - Chin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...