Friday, December 27, 2013

Chito Roño's Boy Golden

Boy Golden

Director: Chito Roño
With: Jeorge Estregan, KC Concepcion, John Estrada, Eddie Garcia, Gloria Sevilla, Dick Israel, Leo Martinez, Roi Vinson, Tonton Gutierrez, Mon Confiado, John Lapus

There are two possible outcomes after watching this MMFF entry, Boy Golden: 1) You're dumbfounded by the whole thing because it has a lot of WTF moments and campy gimmicks 2) You're smiling on your way out of the theater because of the same reasons I've mentioned in number 1 and you think that the film is actually fun and good. You'll either love it or hate it. Me? I definitely enjoyed it and more inclined with number 2. ^_^

The film is loosely based on the life of Arturo Porcuna (Jeorge E.R. Estregan) during his gangster life as Boy Anino to Boy Golden. Along his journey, he met a dancer named Marla Dee (KC Concepcion) only to find out that both have the same mission in seeking revenge against one of the most notorious gangster, Razon (John Estrada).

In Boy Golden, Chito Roño celebrates classic Filipino action films while maintaining his modern style and including more crazy tactics. The vibrant colors of the set screams his style wherein neon colors of blue, red, purple and green enrich the old school Manila vibe. It actually reminds me of Feng Shui and Only God Forgives' (nuks!) color schemes but it also worked well here in Boy Golden. Revenge is one of the most common themes, not only in Philippine action films, but in the whole action film genre. That's why I find it necessary that Roño included comedy and camp, something we rarely see in any Filipino movies, and it indeed made the film unique in comparison to the usual action films. It made the film a lot livelier, crazier and funnier: from epic names such as Tekla, Bungal, and the best among the rest, Datu Putla. Ridiculous characters varying from a cliché Chinoy, spoiled brat gangster son who plays spectacular piano, gay sidekick to one of the biggest bosses and a mama's boy gangster. Campy and gory action scenes like parkour, where a number of regular guys jump from roof to roof, KC Concepcion's kickass one-on-one fight against a Crouching-Tiger-Zhang-ZiYi like woman who creates Chun-Li growls along their fight, Gloria Sevilla unleashing her inner cruelty while plucking her armpit hair and more scenes that goes beyond your serious imagination. And when I say more, there really is more. Describing them through words won't suffice the campness of those scenes. Surprisingly impressive musical score by Carmina Cuya also gives each scenes life varying from fun and chill to romantic and melodramatic to heart racing sounds. The film is also not devoid of depth and twists proving that this is not another pointless action comedy. There's even a scene justifying the true missions of gangsters and the failure of the police in capturing them. All this while a montage of what seems like a real-life pictures of past Filipino gangsters like Nardong Putik flash on the screen. There really are numerous reasons why this film works.

While the lead Jeorge Estregan acts terribly as hell, I guess it sort of works in this kind of film. But thank goodness to the ensemble for giving a variety of awesome performances, with Eddie Garcia looking more epic in each scenes he appear in, notably old Dick Israel who I may also call as legendary in this film, Gloria Sevilla enjoying a role I don't think she's ever portrayed before, and Baron Geisler as Datu Putla embracing his very maputla makeup that's reminiscent of Skyfall's Raoul Silva, what more can a moviegoer ask for? Even KC Concepcion shined in this, aside from her reaction when John Lapuz slapped her in the beginning of the film. That's kind of funny. But these are iconic characters giving more oomph to the film.

The film still needs massive improvement in terms of make up and visual effects but with the film's goofy nature, these imperfections are easy to overlook. If there's one person who truly enjoyed this film, I'm pretty sure it's Chito Roño. He's never afraid to try new things proven even in his past works. He's not afraid to take risks and be corny or cheesy in this film, thus, making it more solid. I guess it would be a stretch to compare his work in this film to Quentin Tarantino's, but I really do think that most of the scenes are inspired by his movies. I can see this being a terrible film for some, but truth is, I really enjoyed this film that I can't wait for more people to see it so I can discuss and laugh at all the hilarity of this film with them.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Last time I updated this, it was the finale of Survivor Blood vs Water. 5 seasons later, I updated this again.

My opinion of Survivor seasons change a lot. Just like wine, it should improve with age. Here's my ranking as of May 22, 2016.

1. Survivor 16: Micronesia
The first Fans vs Favorites. This is still my all-time favorite season. I may not be optimistic about the idea of newbies competing against returnees, especially that the so-called 'fans' in this season don't seem like real fans, it still ended up being my favorite because of the compelling episodes week after week after week. Unlike other people, I actually liked the favorites in this season but I warmed up to the fans as well because literally everyone delivered. Even Mary, the most underedited player this season or perhaps in the whole Survivor series became a funny running joke. People say that Micronesia's pre merge was a bore, but I disagree. Amanda and Ozzy brought steamy nights to Survivor, the battle of oldies against young guns and Cirie in the Favorites tribe, Kathy's comedic antics, and amazing blindsides in the Fans tribe care of one of the most unexpected masterminds, Tracy, Micronesia's pre merge surely delivered. But just when I thought things wouldn't get better after a promising pre merge, its post merge sealed this season as my favorite. From one jaw dropping blindside to another. It's rare for any TV show to make me react frantically in front of my TV.. And Parvati winning it all is the cherry on top of the cupcake.

2. Survivor 6: Amazon 
Before Courtney Yates and Brenda Lowe came into Survivor, my all time favorite castaway was Jenna Morasca. I was young and naive when this aired on Studio 23 so I was shocked to learn that Jenna is actually not a popular winner, and worse, she's considered as one of the bad winners of the show. I thought she was bad ass in Amazon and very visible throughout the season, especially she's part of the Mean Girls clique who served as the antagonists to the old ladies and the misfits. She also won lots of important challenges and the first one to give her Immunity in Tribal Council without getting voted out. Amazon is also the first season to feature Battle of the Sexes as a twist which is subsequently used in three other seasons Vanuatu, Panama and One World. And even if it was used numerous times already, Amazon is still my favorite season to feature this twist because they assembled a pretty great cast of strong women in Heidi, Deena, Jenna, JoAnna and Christy and a variety of persona consisting of nerds, stereotypical douches, sexists and likable heroes in the men's tribe . Its post merge is one of the most exciting thing in the old school era of Survivor. This season proved that there's no need for hidden Immunity Idols to engineer amazing blindsides. Every episode, castaways get blindsided but so is the audience and this is all possible because of Rob Cesternino whom I wasn't a huge fan of when this season originally aired. Amazon being a unique location is also a huge plus why this is my second favorite season of all time.

3. Survivor 17: Gabon 
They say this is one of the most underrated seasons of Survivor but definitely not in my ranking. I consider Gabon as the season with the best cast with Jacquie being the only dud. From first boot Michelle to the eventual winner this season, Bob, everyone brought something awesome to the numerous storylines of Gabon. Gabon has a nerd in Kenny, elitist in Corinne, American hero (or not) in Marcus, grumpy old man in Randy, old and nerdy Physics professor Bob, a gay guy Charlie who fell in love with the American Hero, an unexpected gameplayer Sugar who's a pin up model and a faux Brit poser in Ace. But my favorite is Crystal Cox, an ex Olympic gold medalist who had so much promise pre show saying that she has the 4 Bs needed on Survivor, beauty, brains, brawn and blazing speed, only to end up being the opposite of her claims. Crystal Cox turned out to be a loud, sassy player who's often an underdog and she's also the reason why we, fans of the Show enjoyed the memes and vids of Eat yo Rice and her crazy voting confessionals. She needs to return on Survivor someday! The only thing I dislike about this season is its conclusion.

4. Survivor 7: Pearl Islands
Pearl Islands is another great season with great characters and a proof that blindsides can happen even without the help of Hidden Immunity Idols. Pearl Islands is fascinating from the first episode to the last and this is possible because it has a great cast. This season has some of the most notorious villains like Jonny Fairplay and Burton, and noble heroes and underdogs like Lill, and Rupert who eventually become one of the only 2 four timers to play this game. Sandra, the winner of this season turned out to be a villain in the Heroes vs Villains season but she served as the hero against Fairplay. Sandra winning this season is one of the reasons why this is great because she only depended on her social and strategic skills. She's one of the weakest players physically but her sass, courage and independence proved that winners can win even if you're the weakest player in your cast and that the game of Survivor is really more of a social game than physical. Pearl Islands also produced the first quit c/o of Osten and the first season to include a returning twist. While I'm not a fan of this twist, it can't take away my love for this season. Drake Tribe foreva!

5. Survivor 15: China
This season is an instant favorite because everything went into my favorite players' favor and ended up being the finalists of the season. What more can you ask for when Amanda, Courtney and Todd became the final 3 in Survivor China? It's basically a no-brainer that you become engaged to a season when all the things you want to happen ends up happening. Survivor frustrates me numerous times but I never experienced frustration in Survivor China. It's not boring either because it contains some of the biggest blunders this show has ever had especially James' blindside while having 2 of the Hidden Immunity Idols in his pocket. And again, this is possible because of the above-mentioned trio. China also succeeds because of its great cast. I consider China as the season with the best dynamics pre show. Zhan Hu being a clusterfuck tribe against the ideal tribe Fei Long. I usually root for the underdogs but it's different in China because I rooted for the dominant tribe. Fei Long is probably one of the most perfect tribe in any season of Survivor. Good thing it has Denise to neutralize its greatness. Zhan Hu isn't bad either because they consist of fun-loving characters. They are great underdogs too. Even then, we've seen some of the great moves in China c/o Zhan Hu players Jaime and Peih Gee. I forgot how much I loved Peih Gee and I want to see her return someday (disc. I wrote this before Survivor  Cambodia). Overall, China is a great season with great storyarcs, cast and location. It has one of the best winners too. Stay strong Todd! (disc. I wrote this 2 years ago?) Survivor 15-16-17 will always be my favorite era of Survivor and I'm looking forward for this show to produce another 3 consecutive awesome seasons again.

6. Survivor 13: Cook Islands
I will never ever understand why some of the Survivor communities online despise this season. To me, this is one of the most watchable seasons but I'm probably biased because it's the first and only season to feature Filipino American players like Jenny and Brad. Seriously though, even without them this season is fantastic. Penner, Parvati, Candice and Ozzy proved in their other seasons why Cook Islands is great. The division of tribes through race is also an interesting one for me. It may be a sensitive issue for other countries but as a Survivor fan, I like when they do experiments like this. Plus, this twist didn't even last long so I don't think it did anything harm to the season. The Aitu 4, perhaps, is one of the most boring final 4 this series has, especially that I'm an avid Raro supporter, but thinking about it, their journey is really quite epic. Yul and Ozzy is a great final 2 (back then). Both are good representations of Brains and Brawn. The ending is also exciting when Yul, the winner won against Ozzy by a single vote. I did not like the HII twist here though, and I'm glad that they changed it quickly for the succeeding seasons.

7. Survivor 28: Cagayan
I don't love it as much right now because I think my love for SJDS grew fonder, but I remember being really hooked for this season, episode per episode per episode. I think this has only one or two dud episodes and those two happened after the switch. Not gonna complain because I was rooting for the Brains that time and the switch is the best case scenario for them. I'm just sad that it came a round late for J'Tia to be saved. This season gave us lot of epic breakout players that could level the likes of legendary old school players. Chaos Kass is a new villainous archetype that we loved to hate, Tony is a new and improved and better and way nicer and way more likable Russell Hantz, Spencer is the young guy so likable it's annoying, and more. I was about to mention Tasha but we all know what happened to her in Cambodia.

8. Survivor 20: Heroes vs Villains
There is no doubt that this is an epic season despite Russell Hantz' dominance in the game. While it saved Parvati from being voted out early, Russell is just not a likable character. This is also the only season where I like Boston Rob, because he aligned himself with Courtney and Sandra, but so much for their alliance as he failed to dominate when I wanted him to dominate. I guess it's for the good because his ally Sandra won in the end. She is the only 2-time winner of Survivor. I'm rooting for a Parvati win though but I don'ti mind Sandra's win. I just thought that Parvati made more epic moves for an epic all star season. This season also features a great tribe of Heroes and Villains. The Villains is the only thing that matters though because my favorites on the Heroes tribe didn't last long. It would have made this season better if James and Amanda didn't dominate this season's premerge but I guess it's for the best because they didn't matter come merge time. This season has some of the most memorable moments this series has ever shown.

9. Survivor 29: San Juan del Sur
Probably unpopular that it cracked the top 10 but I read a lot of Survivor forums and groups, and they actually love this season. Natalie Anderson should take full credit for saving this season from disaster with her strong lies and gameplay which the jury ultimately rewarded her for it. It also helped that this season has a lot of players who exceeded our expectations. Jaclyn is one of the stars that I never predicted to last long. Her journey basically reminded me of Courtney Yates in China. Then we have Baylor, Missy, and naive male players who paved the way for these women to dominate this season. This is also the home of Survivor Second Chances stars so that says a lot to the players of this season.

10. Survivor 4: Marquesas
Marquesas is probably one of the most forgettable seasons for many but it's one of my guilty pleasures. The cast is not so stellar compared to its preceding seasons but it has one of my favorite game changing moments of the game and that is when the underdogs finally overthrow the dominant Rotu 4 in a classic blindside fashion. During the old school seasons of Survivor, flipping seems like a taboo and I felt like old school players automatically let the dominant tribe dominate their games and they're fine even if they're doomed in the minority. Everything changed in Marquesas when Neleh, Paschal and Kathy teamed up with Vecepia and Sean to vote out their original and condescending tribemates. It may not be as rare as before but I always love it when it happens as I'm really fond of the underdogs. In Marquesas, Neleh was my favorite so seeing her fight and eventually end up being the runner up increased my love for this season. It would have been sweeter though if she won.

11. Survivor 2: Australia
There is a reason why Australia is the most watched season of Survivor. When I think about why I love this season, I immediately think of Kucha, Elisabeth, Colby and Jerri. Colby and Jerri, in particular, is one of the most epic duo this game has ever displayed. Well they're not really a duo but their love-hate relationship was so fun to watch. Colby was an epic American hero back in Australia and Jerri was the biggest bitch any reality show has ever had. But outside of that is my everlasting love for Kucha. Kucha is my first favorite tribe and it's mainly because of Elisabeth. Watching them dominate against the equally good Ogakor was amazing and it was devastating when they lost Mike and started to lose challenges. Mike's fire incident is also one of the biggest moments in any reality show. I remember it being really dark when it first aired. I think Australia is also one of the reasons why I stuck with the show. It's so much different from the first season that it made me think and hope that Survivor should go on for more seasons and alas they did! Tina winning is also worth a mention because it's a huge upset from the expected Colby win but its the unexpected results like this that keep us from watching this show.

12. Survivor 25: Philippines
I looovvve Philippines and this season is the only season post HvV to reach the top 10 (not anymore). I've come to terms to the fact that the golden era of Survivor has ended but I'm still optimistic that more great seasons will come. All will be gimmicky but bring them on. Philippines is not devoid of gimmicks because the producers were certain that returnees make a season great. I have no problem with that but having Russell Swan return for another season is beyond the gimmicks I've ever imagined (then Francesca happened). Good thing is that it suits the theme for this season, return of the medevacs. I was okay with Mike Skupin and Jonathan as returnees and was just happy that they can all lead a tribe of their own. Although before this season aired, I was disappointed with the newbies and thought that they would enable these returnees to go further in the game but heck, I was wrong. The newbies this season were phenomenal. Philippines gave us some of the most epic modern heroes and villains in this series, like we can legitimately call Malcolm or Lisa as true Heroes and Abi Maria as a real Villain goddess. Survivor rarely produces these kind of characters nowadays but Philippines brought them to us. Plus, this season is also well-edited where almost each player has at least one episode dedicated for them. With great characters and awesome rootable tribes, it didn't stop there because the winner is also a deserving one. Before winning, Denise Stapley had to attend every Tribal Council from the first one to the end. In the end, this season shows that there are more things we can expect from a season and we haven't seen everything yet.

13. Survivor 1: Borneo
This may be boring for a rewatch but I fell in love with the show because of Borneo. In Borneo, it's not all about strategy. In fact, strategy may be the last thing on the players and audience's mind during this season. Except of course for Richard Hatch. But that's what makes this season fun, interesting and compelling. It's focused first on the tribal dynamics and living against the elements on a deserted island before the outwitting part of the game. It has moments where one of the castaways didn't receive a letter from home and I remember it being so sad. Gervase receiving a news that he's finally becoming a dad. Those moments were great. But the greatest one is Sue and Kelly's relationship which ended up with Sue's epic Snake and Rat jury speech. 27 seasons have passed and I can still remember these moments vividly and I think that says a lot to how iconic this season is.

14. Survivor 21: Nicaragua
I'm not all love for Nicaragua but this is one of the top tier seasons because of my love for La Flor tribe especially Brenda. Brenda revived my love for Survivor. I always like young, beautiful, socially, strategically and physically dominant players in the game. Brenda has all of those. She basically has the Brains, Beauty and Brawn and she made the pre-merge weeks of watching Survivor Nicaragua a high moment of my Survivor fandom. Nicaragua would easily climb up my top 5 if not for the travesty of Brenda's elimination followed by quits of Purple Kelly and NaOnka. Since Brenda's elimination, Nicaragua went into a downward spiral ending this season with the worst winner of Survivor, Fabio. Worse is NaOnka's quit, who lead the plan to blindside Brenda. If she didn't quit, then I would probably have more love for this season and more respect for her. But she did. Good thing is that NaOnka provided some of the funniest moments this season, adding up to the reasons why I love Nicaragua.

15. Survivor 10: Palau
First, I just want to mention how much I love Palau as a location and it's probably the best beach themed season they've ever shot in. But my love for Palau is mainly because of the underdog story of Ulong with Bobby Jon and Stephenie as their lead characters. It's not exciting to watch a tribe losing and losing each episode but what kept me watching Palau was my hope that they would survive. Unfortunately, they didn't. In fact, Palau never had a merge because Ulong kept on losing and production had no choice but to just put Stephenie on the dominant tribe Koror. Koror is too dominant, it's disappointing. That's why Palau's premerge is the only thing I love about this season. Everything is meh but my love for Ulong is eternal.

16. Survivor 18: Tocantins
Much like Palau, Tocantins' pre merge is the only thing I love about it. While Tocantins has epic blindsides post merge, it's disappointing to watch your favorite tribe self destruct in favor of the other boring tribe. Tocantins is a likable season because its location is fresh and it also has one of the best cast of this show. I can live with watching Timbira's dynamics alone because Jalapao is such a bore. This season had great potential to be awesome especially with the twist of having two players each tribe go to Exile island, in hopes of having a cross tribal alliance come merge. But that potential went to dust come merge because the Timbira tribe was such a clusterfuck of a tribe who targeted each of their own.

17. Survivor 27: Blood vs Water
I love Blood vs Water and that says a lot because I hate the Redemption Island twist but it surprisingly worked for this season mainly because players are competing with/against their loved ones and it exceeds all my expectations for this season. It gave this season so much depth and life other than the strategy and social aspects that we are used to seeing nowadays on Survivor. I also love the fact that players this season are really competitive and did not depend on others. They fought and gave Tyson, the winner a run for his money and while I prefer if Tyson left the game of Survivor with the legacy of committing a blunder in all 3 seasons that he played, he's a very deserving winner who in fact, reminds me of how Parvati played in Fans vs Favorites. This season have so much drama that's hard to ignore and I can see this season being bumped up in this ranking a few months from now depending on the success of next season. I mean, it has the drawing of rocks tiebreaker, what more can I ask for? But the only thing that hinders me from ranking this higher than 15 is that I didn't have any intense feeling of love for any of the players. These players know how to play the game but they lack the 'oomph' of personalities I look for in players or in a season.

18. Survivor 32: Kaoh Rong
This season didn't start off strong but then it got better and better and peaked at a great timing. Last two episodes before the funale was a bit disappointing but the funale itself was nailbiting and compelling. I'm actually a fan of the jury twist but I'm not hoping to see it again in a future season mainly because I think the only reason they did that was Joe's unexpected medevac. Still, this season gave us a great Final 4 wherein each of them was given their own sufficient amount of story arcs that are gripping and fun to watch. It gave edgicians a hard to time to predict the winner. I've always predicted Michele though and never faltered. Do I think Aubry would make a great winner for this season? Absolutely. Because out of the Final 4, she definitely has the most exhaustive arc. From showing her weakness where us audience questioned her longevity in the game, to owning the merge despite losing her two closest allies. It would have been a perfect story for her, just like Kelley in Cambodia had she won. But Michele isn't too shabby in my opinion. Not the most exciting definitely, but definitely not the worst either. She stepped up and I'm very proud of her win.

19. Survivor 12: Exile Island 
I remember enjoying this season when it originally aired but this kind of didn't age that well. This season has one of the best, if not the best, tribe on any season and that is Casaya. They are dysfunctional yet competitive. They are basically like a family who hates each other but stands as one against their enemies. Good thing they're like that because their opposing tribe is as boring as the tribe I've mentioned in my Tocantins writeup. Possibly the most boring tribe there is. It also helps that this season had a great and interesting start. The tribes were divided into age and sex and it provided an interesting storytelling on each tribe's dynamics. It also helps that one of my favorites got to the end as a runner-up and this season also has Cirie who's one of the best players of Survivor and has one of the best character development we saw on the show. But other than that, it's an okay season.

20. Survivor 3: Africa
This season has a lot of fans, I can see why. There are lots of All Stars worthy players who reached the end part of this season. Ethan is also a good likable winner. But if you're rooting for the Mall Rats like me, this for sure won't end up being one of your favorites. I consider Boran as one of the blandest tribes on Survivor and they're the one who succeeds against Samburu, which is my favorite tribe. It also didn't help that there are some game changing moments that could have happened but didn't because of the stupidity of some of the players in this game. I'm looking at you Brandon Quinton. But all is forgiven now. I still think that this is not that bad of a season. Despite its dry looking location, it's actually very refreshing to see a unique location like Kenya and here's hoping to see more inland locations again in the future.

21. Survivor 24: One World
Strong women's alliance are always fun to watch because they rarely happen on Survivor. One World has a very successful and notorious women's alliance and I appreciate that. But the reason why this is not as high as I wanted it to be is because the rest of the castaways got no match against the winner, Kim Spradlin. Seriously, Kim is one of the best one-time players of all time. Evidence is her win. However, it made so much easier for her to win with the bunch of idiots she's cast to play with and it made for a boring post-merge season. Pre-merge, it has a lot of promise but I just can't with the merge. Also, I don't think that production utilized the one beach twist that well. It would have been amazing to see a cross-tribal alliance through this twist but it didn't happen because another twist, which is the gender wars, kind of negates it. In a way, I still like this season because it has many strong women, but at the end of the day, I want a winner to have some struggles along her way and Kim had none.

22. Survivor 31: Cambodia - Second Chances
I'm not going to lie that I actually liked the "voting blocs" thingy because it made things unpredictable. It's just that despite this being an all-returnee season, it brought out the worst in some of the most likable players in their initial season. I hated Tasha here, Stephen got a little unbearable, and most of them just basically disappointed their fans. Abi Maria is probably the only one who maintained her epic status. Meanwhile, we had Kelley and Ciera who definitely increased their epic status as Survivor players. I won't be surprised if we see them again in a future season. Overall, it's good, had great moments, with disappointing outcome.

23. Survivor 26: Caramoan
I originally have this 2 spots higher when I first ranked it last May, but after Blood vs Water, Caramoan is really kind of shitty. This season has the return of the Fans vs Favorites twist and while I didn't doubt it because of the success of the first Fans vs Favorites season, the choice of returnees except for Malcolm, Erik and Brenda is highly disappointing. I'm a huge fan of Brenda and was ecstatic to learn that she's in this season but Phillip, Brandon, Dawn, Cochran? They're not really considered "favorites" and let's not even go with Francesqua. It also didn't help that most of the favorites are already friends prior to this season alienating other players like Brenda, Malcolm and Corinne. It sucks. The fans weren't great either. While they showed that they're the more interesting tribe pre-merge, it's still not enough to make up for the bloated edits of the likes of Phillip and Brandon and Dawn's meltdowns. It's very frustrating because some of my favorites were underedited for these loons. Then the merge came and it got more interesting. So interesting that I seriously think it made up for the atrocity that is this season's premerge. But it's not enough to make this season a good one. It's also hard to recall Brenda's saddening blindside so I guess I just have to leave this on this spot.

24. Survivor 9: Vanuatu
This season has one of the most intense post merge. Friendships crumbled, promises were broken, alliances were constantly changing, blindsides and all. It only suffered because of its very dull cast. Don't get me wrong, the women this season were legendary but the men, ick, they're probably some of the most insipid groups of men this show has ever had. And it's also saddening that the legendary women turned on against each other enabling the one and only remaining man to win everything. It's actually fun to see it because it's reminiscent of the lighthouse scene in Battle Royale. Great thing about Chris though, the winner, is that he earned his rightful win. You would think that the main story of this season is about women turning on against each other forgetting that there's still a man they have to deal with but Chris is one of the reasons why these women went nuts with each other. If only it has a better cast, this season would be so much better.

25. Survivor 11: Guatemala
The return of Queen Stephenie and King Bobby Jon. Remember when I talked about Stephenie as the heroic underdog in Palau? When she returned for this season, she's the other way around. She turned into this narcissistic hungry villain that it's hilarious, but don't get me wrong, I still rooted for her in this season. I love me some cunning female to earn her way to the end. But unfortunately, the better female Danni beat her in the end. Truth is, Danni's win for me is more of like Stephenie's loss in the eyes of the jury. Guatemala has an okay cast. I really enjoyed the post merge part of this season but its premerge perhaps is the blurriest part for me. I'm a huge Survivor fan but I barely remember anything memorable that happened in Guatemala and that's why it's ranked number 21. Probably need to rewatch this season.

26. Survivor 23: South Pacific
Survivor South Pacific is like the better looking twin of Survivor Redemption Island But no one can change the fact that it's still a boring season. Few bright spots of this season were voted out early. We're introduced to Cochran as one of the most annoying players this game has ever had. The rest are just dull aside from Coach, Sophie and Brandon. Brandon was very interesting at first but then I got tired of him eventually. I like Coach this season because he showed that when he's actually a normal human being who can actually play the game. Sophie, the eventual winner is a great one. Very articulate and smart. But this season is forgettable.

27. Survivor 19: Samoa
Samoa is a decent season for me but like Tocantins, my favorite tribe Galu turned on against each other enabling the boring underdogs take over the game. This is also the first season of Russell Hantz and it sucks because he's part of the boring underdogs. In fairness to him, he made that boring tribe Foa Foa a little interesting because of his villainous, idol finding ways. This is actually my favorite showing of Russell and there was a time when I actually thought that he should have won against Natalie. I still think that he deserves it but I'm happy that he doesn't have the title of Sole Survivor because he is so misguided about the game. Hantz is a player who completely dismisses the social part of the game by being an asshole to other players. But enough about him, Samoa has Laura Morett which is probably my favorite old player in the history of this show. She served as the main nemesis of Russell that's why I have this appreciation for her. Plus, for a grandmother like her, aside from being a great social and strategic player, she's really a good physical player. Samoa would have been one of the top tier seasons if Galu ended up victorious against Foa Foa. I like me some good underdog stories but it doesn't apply to all underdogs. Foa Foa was just boring and some of my favorites in that tribe got voted out early and all because of Russell. If Samoa didn't have too much Russell, I guess it would be a better season. But it's all wrapped up and I don't have huge passion for it.

28. Survivor 30: Worlds Apart
I'd even dare to say that this has one of the best pre-merge of all seasons of Survivor. But when one of the most unlikable alliance in the history of the game took over the merge, and the fire of Jenn Brown started to lose its steam, it just went downhill worse than when Brenda got voted off in Nicaragua. Not to mention, all the bullying and hatred Shirin received from her cast mates. It got too much and it's just not fun to watch anymore. Glad that in the end, the good trumped the evil but even Mike cannot save us from this season's last few episodes where all we saw was despicable people hating each other.

29. Survivor 14: Fiji
I still have vivid memories of Fiji because I remember having so much time watching the replays for all of the episodes. Unfortunately, this season is not the most exciting one. I wouldn't call this season horrible because it actually has some of the most interesting dynamics and gameplay but the cast is just so weird to me that I don't think most of them are suited to play Survivor. The cast also consists some of the most unlikable personalities you'll ever see on any reality show. Also, the fact that Fiji almost ended this series, it goes to show how hideous this season is. But like I said, I still have an ounce of appreciation for this season. Thank goodness for the succeeding Survivor seasons after this for reviving the greatness of the show.

30. Survivor 5: Thailand
Now here's another season with an unlikable cast with boring dynamics. The reason I like Fiji a little more is because the players I'm rooting for made it far in the game and one of them even won the whole thing. In Thailand, my favorites were outsmarted by the unpleasant members of Chuay Gahn. It also has one of the most disgusting incidents of the show and that is the Ghandiagate. Eeep. Boring characters that even my favorites were boring, great but unlikable winner, not so good location, I can't think of anything redeeming about this season.

31. Survivor 8: All Stars
You'll either love this season or hate it. If you're a Romber fan, you'll love it. Unfortunately for me, I'm not. That's why I despise this season. It sucks that the least deserving players to return ended up dominating the game. It also sucks that the legendary players didn't show a lot of enthusiasm in playing this game. Basically that's it. All Stars sucks!

32. Survivor 22: Redemption Island
I am certain that this is the worst season of all time. Boston Rob already redeemed himself in Heroes vs Villains, he doesn't need another season to prove himself. But he's back dominating the game in this season. I don't know what I hate more about this season, the fact that he's smug or the fact that he's playing with a bunch of lapdogs and idiots. It also doesn't help that Russell Hantz is in this season and while this is responsible for Russell's torch being snuffed by Jeff Probst, to be quite honest I would rather just not see him in another season. This is also the first season to include Redemption Island and for me, this started the death of Survivor. I'm just glad that Survivor is picking up again but if there's any season that I want to erase in my memory, it's Redemption Island.

Here's hoping for a great Survivor 33: Millenials vs GenX. Cheers to 33 seasons of Survivor!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Act of Killing

The Act of Killing

Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
With: Anwar Congo

Anwar Congo, an old, slim, dressed to the nines Indonesian national hero, along with his friends Adi Zulkadry and Herman Koto, proudly narrated their history as gangsters when they were young. The meaning of "gangster" according to them is "free men".

Back in 1965, gangsters were promoted to execute communists and anyone who opposed the military dictatorship. Because of this, hundreds of thousands of people were murdered. Anwar is one of the gangsters hired by the military to execute the killings. Usually by choking with wire, he killed an estimate of 1,000 people. Documentarian Joshua Oppenheimer met him and his fellows, asked them to re-enact the killings in whatever ways they want.

These gangsters boasted how they gambled, smuggled, went to night clubs, bought good clothes with their mugged money, rigged elections in their favor, displayed their notoriety like how 'bad boys' do in films. In detail, they also described the communist killings during their time. Anwar even demonstrated his favorite way of killing and danced the cha-cha right after his demonstration. They're laughing, singing and dancing guiltless like they never did anything wrong. In fact, they justified why the operation of the military during the killings was right and cited the Nazis and Bush as examples of their vindication. All this while they plan on reenacting the killings. Anwar, Herman and Adi chose to portray the killings through their favorite film genres: western, gangster and musical.

They also planned to include humor in the film stating that moviegoers are interested in seeing wars, Nazis, blood and other violent scenes. The inclusion of humor is for the kids who they intended as part of their audience. It features scenes with fat Herman dressed as a woman while beheading Anwar, watching beautiful dancing girls as they come out of a giant Magikarp-looking fish in a fascinating nature backdrop, worshiping and dancing in the paradise to the music of 'Born Free', killings in basements while they're dressed up like Al Pacino in 'The Godfather' and de Niro in 'Goodfellas'. The scenes are beautifully shot and sort of philosophical, but they're also creepy and out of this world at the same time. Their main goal, however, is to show their history: that communists are the bad ones. I was waiting for them to mention that they do not want to witness another genocide in the present and future time as their reason in making this film. But unfortunately, it is not part of their motive.  Their dramatization is astonishing and often painful to watch and the final product is just weird and unimaginable. Mindblowing and powerful.

In the end, Oppenheimer's experiment showed the ounce of humanity and morality in this documentary, especially in Anwar. As they choose to relive the killings themselves, the reenactments begin to take over their reality in what seems like signs of their guilt and moral sense. One can tell as they wrap up the film and as they watch the result that they start thinking differently about their past actions. It seems as if they finally realized their wrongdoings and they're agitated by it. Nightmares start to disturb Anwar especially when he's about to sleep. And in the powerful last minutes of the documentary, Anwar wanders around the place where he cha-cha'd, the place where he personally killed thousands of people, gagging profusely, creating disturbing and ugly sounds of vomit. Silenced, he wept the tears falling from his eyes. The scene shifted to Anwar dancing with Herman, along with the beautiful girls beside the giant fish

The documentary ended that way leaving me with an unexplained feeling. I never imagined evil things like genocides and massacres as nothing for other people. We've been taught that there's goodness in every human being but even if that's true, with how these cantankerous maniacs celebrated while reminiscing the cruelties and sadism that they did, is just shattering and confusing. How can they possibly think that their actions in the past and what they say to justify themselves and their actions in the present time is normal? How can they be so unapologetic? How can they be so inhuman? Good thing is that this documentary ends with a few seconds of purge, but even then, the creepy material exhibited in this film is hard to forget. I slept shortly after seeing it and in the middle of my sleep, I woke up still thinking about it. No exaggerations, The Act of Killing is a stunning and an eye-opening documentary.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Blue is the Warmest Color

Blue is the Warmest Color

Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
With:  Adèle Exarchopoulos, Léa Seydoux

"I have infinite tenderness for you. I always will. All my life long."

This is perhaps, one of the most controversial films this year. While it is not new for French films to have liberated attitude toward sex and human body, Blue is the Warmest Color contains some of the most explicit and surprising lesbian sex scenes you'll ever see in recent years (and outside of porn). But at the end of the film, we are certain that it is more about love, than sex or lust. Most people may have a hard time relating to the main characters' identity, but it is so easy to feel the emotions out of them, Adèle and Emma. They possess something that is familiar to all of us, and that is the feeling of love.

Everything about the film looked natural, the raw emotions, the intense sex, the neverending conversations, the dancing and festivities. The film is 3 hours long but it never felt like it. I can name a number of my favorite scenes in the film, not counting the obvious ones. In fact, thinking about it, every scene in the film is inspired. We are captivated just by listening and looking at the characters' conversations and interactions. The reason for that of course, is the poignant performances of Léa Seydoux and newcomer Adèle Exarchopoulos. Director Abdellatif Kechiche brought out the sincerity in these two actresses as he chose to tell the story of the film most often with close ups of their facial expressions varying from vulnerable, to curious, to excited, to confused, to sorrowful and to being madly in love. Exarchopoulos, in particular, has a great face that depicts her character so well, perplexed, sensitive and longing. Now I understand why she's been receiving so much recognition for her work in this film. Portraying her character in the film requires courage, passion and authenticity which she delivered quite well especially for a newbie.

This film teaches us what we, or at least most of us, already know about love. That it involves PAIN. And pain comes in different shapes and sizes. Jealousy. Deception. Differences in personality and passion. Loneliness. Acceptance. Abandon and Need. These raw aspects of love are majorly depicted in this film and we all know that these things that happen in real life is hard to illustrate through films. We are taught that life is not like the movies but like I mentioned, Seydoux and Exarchopoulos will make you feel these things easily and real. The last time I felt this feeling from a movie was when I saw Blue Valentine which left a bad taste in my mouth. I'm pretty sure this one would make you feel that too. Blue is indeed blue.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

My '71st Golden Globes Awards' Nominations Predictions : Film

Best Motion Picture: Drama
1 12 Years a Slave
2 Gravity
3 Dallas Buyers Club
4 Saving Mr. Banks
5 Captain Phillips

Best Motion Picture: Comedy/Musical
1 Inside Llewyn Davis
2 American Hustle
3 The Wolf of Wall Street
4 Nebraska
5 Her

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture: Drama
1 Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
2 Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
3 Robert Redford, All Is Lost
4 Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
5 Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture: Drama
1 Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
2 Sandra Bullock, Gravity
3 Judi Dench, Philomena
4 Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
5 Brie Larson, Short Term 12

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture: Comedy/Musical
1 Bruce Dern, Nebraska
2 Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
3 Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
4 Joaquin Phoenix, Her
5 Christian Bale, American Hustle

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture: Comedy/Musical
1 Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
2 Amy Adams, American Hustle
3 Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
4 Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said
5 Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
1 Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
2 Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
3 Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks
4 Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
5 James Gandolfini, Enough Said

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
1 Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniel's The Butler
2 Lupita Nyong'O, 12 Years a Slave
3 June Squibb, Nebraska
4 Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
5 Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Best Director
1 Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
2 Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
3 Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
4 Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
5 David O. Russell, American Hustle

Best Screenplay
1 12 Years a Slave
2 Her
3 Blue Jasmine
4 Enough Said
5 Before Midnight

Best Original Score
1 12 Years a Slave
2 Gravity
3 Her
4 Saving Mr. Banks
5 Philomena

Best Animated Feature Film
1 The Wind Rises
2 Frozen
3 The Croods
4 Monsters University
5 Despicable Me 2

Best Foreign Language Film
1 Blue is the Warmest Colour, France
2 The Hunt, Denmark
3 Wadjda, Saudi Arabia
4 Gloria, Chile
5 The Great Beauty, Italy

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

2014 Screen Actors Guild Awards Predictions

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1 American Hustle
2 12 Years a Slave
3 Lee Daniel's The Butler
4 August: Osage County
5 Nebraska

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
1 Bruce Dern, Nebraska
2 Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
3 Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
4 Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
5 Robert Redford, All Is Lost

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
1 Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
2 Sandra Bullock, Gravity
3 Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
4 Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
5 Judi Dench, Philomena

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
1 James Gandolfini, Enough Said
2 Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks
3 Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
4 Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
5 James Franco, Spring Breakers

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

1 Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
2 Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniel's The Butler
3 June Squibb, Nebraska
4 Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
5 Lupita Nyong'O, 12 Years a Slave

Monday, December 9, 2013

NOVEMBER 2013: Kiwi!, Get a Horse! and Frozen


Director: Dony Permedi

One of my favorite past times is talking about movies and other stuff during lunch with friends. Then one lunch, we randomly talked about short films and one of my friends recommended "Kiwi!", a computer generated animated creation by an animation student in New York. That's the most interesting about it, actually. It wasn't done by a pro and the animations were okay but this short is very well done. Plus, it's associated with a great thought provoking story. It's about a Kiwi who spends his whole time working on achieving his dream. For a very short film, it was able to show a deep subject in a touching way which for sure would stimulate discussions.

For those who haven't seen it and are interested to watch it, it's only 3:10 short and it's on Youtube.

Get a Horse!

Director: Lauren MacMullan
With: Walt Disney, Marcellite Garner, Russi Taylor, Billy Bletcher, Will Ryan

Get a Horse! is one of the most fun animated shorts I've ever seen. It also helped that it features the 'old-school Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and their friends' whom I haven't seen since I was a kid. It has a lot of surprises. Starting off with a Super-8 style black-and-white video, I said to myself, "Hmm this could be the 'The Artist' of shorts" but I forgot that I also said this for The Paperman. :3 Then it morphed into a high definition colored 3-D film which I didn't see coming. They definitely outdid themselves in this one and the kids in the theater sure liked it as loud adorable giggles blasted throughout the theater because of the energetic slapstick gags of this animated short. It's also not devoid of creativity, originality and wit as Mickey and friends play virtually with the audience which for sure brought out the kid in adults like me.

Get a Horse! is a good subsequent from last year's Oscar Best Animated Short, The Paperman and I think this will also have a good chance winning this category just because the role of Mickey Mouse here is voiced by the late Walt Disney through his archival voice recordings. I mean, come on people, this short celebrates the Golden era of animation of past and present. What's not to like?


Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
With: Kristin Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana

2013 has been lackluster in terms of animated films until Frozen came out and everything is different. Critics were raving about it, the kids love it, and even adults enjoyed it. No surprise there as Frozen is complete with great songs and rhythym which pay homage to classic Disney music, iconic characters which adds to the roster of classic Disney prince and princesses and adorable sidekicks who provide the much needed laffos and heart like in any Disney animated film.

Frozen is the tale of two sisters - Anna and Elsa, whom as kids were close but grew up separately in the same kingdom as one tragic incident occurred when Elsa had a mishap with her icy superpower. When Elsa grew not knowing how to control her power, she strucked their kingdom with eternal winter and flee from their community. Anna, teamed up with mountain man Kristoff and met new sidekicks Olaf the snowman and Sven the reindeer, to find her sister Elsa, and put an end to her icy spell. Then, they battle different obstacles to save their kingdom from destruction.

While I don't really LOVE it, I can't deny how entertaining Frozen is. It has numerous catchy songs that I appreciate with 'For The First Time in Forever' and 'Do You Want To Build a Snowman?' as my personal favorites. I'm actually surprised that Let It Go is the most loved song in it (even my nephew who hasn't seen the film is already singing it) and the one which will probably get an Oscar nod, because it's one of my least favorite songs of the film featured in my least favorite scene too. Let It Go features Elsa singing and morphing into this fierce goddess that she is. But I can't help but laugh at the whole scene because everything about it screams high fashion modelling, from her catwalk to fierce eyes, it just makes me laugh at the whole thing. But that's just me. :3 I'm definitely not a fan of Elsa. I like Anna though. She's a likable, feisty princess with adorable sidekicks. Olaf is so cute and funny which suits the persona of other classic Disney princess companions. I just wish that he served more purpose in the film but he's just the resident comic relief so I guess I just have to accept that.

Personally, The Croods is still my favorite animated film so far this year, I'm still waiting for The Wind Rises and I can't help but compare Frozen with Tangled where the latter, for me, is far superior. I cannot show further through words how much there is to dislike about the film because many people love it anyway. But I have to say that out of all the Disney films I've watched, the twist in Frozen is the twist that I never saw coming. True love has been a constant theme in Disney films and Frozen took a different angle with this theme that I truly appreciate. That, for me, is the most successful aspect of the film. It proves that happily every after doesn't always have to end with a true love's kiss.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

NOVEMBER 2013: The Past, Chasing Ice & Jiro Dreams of Sushi

The Past

Director: Asghar Farhadi
With: Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa, Pauline Burlet

Asghar Farhadi is quickly climbing up the top of my favorite directors list. Just less than two years after his excellent A Separation, he's able to create yet another brilliant piece in The Past.

A Separation is my number 1 favorite film of 2011 so I was sure that The Past will probably turn out to be an inferior film between the two. But while I prefer A Separation, The Past proved to be another masterpiece by the Iranian director and screenwriter. He's so good in building up characters and stories that twists and turns and new angles never stop coming as the film progressed. Each character, even the most random ones, carry heavy feelings within them without being over the top and Farhadi's storylines are always inclined with reality which I appreciate. He's so keen in small details and I always like that about him because those elements become necessary for the totality of the film, making each scenes and aspects, even the smallest ones, important. What's more impressive is that he does it without extravagant shots and scores in the background and still manages to make the film more compelling. He's really impressive and I won't be surprised if his work gets nominated again in this year's Oscar.

Bérénice Bejo is so beautiful in this film and she acted wonderfully as well. I didn't like her in The Artist but I've found new respect in her because of The Past. May I also mention that she's super gorgeous that even if her character is not the most pleasant character you'll encounter, everything is forgiven because her beautiful face is just irresistible. Her co-actors Tahar Rahim and Ali Mosaffa were also great.

The film is flawless and I can't wait to see more films of Farhadi in the future.

Chasing Ice

Director: Jeff Orlowski
With: James Balog

One afternoon I decided to rewatch the 85th Oscar Awards ceremony. It was then when I realized how beautiful Scarlett Johansson's cold voice in the Academy Award nominated original song 'Before My Time' featured in the documentary Chasing Ice. The song alone made me want to watch it.

Chasing Ice conveys two contrasting stories - one is how ridiculously beautiful the calving of glaciers look like and second, how spookily alarming the effects of these beautiful events to our entire planet. Documentaries about climate change is ubiquitous that Chasing Ice is probably the fourth or the fifth documentary I've seen this year that tackles it. But Chasing Ice is probably the most committed as it shows actual events of the changes in our planet. It relied minimally on charts, graphs and reports and instead, a team lead by James Balog endured the extreme climates in Iceland, Greenland, Alaska to document the harrowing events that take place in the glaciers of these areas within a short period of time. Like what James Balog said, upon thinking of Global warning, the first thing that came to his mind was Ice and he pursued it, not only for the love of photography, but also to show the naysayers of climate change.

But enough about the climate change. Because despite thinking that Chasing Ice probably has the most evidence of the rapid shift of climate among all documentaries I've seen, I don't think that it's the most effective. The material in this documentary is too beautiful to focus on their aim. It also doesn't help that I'm a fan of nature so watching this made me focus solely on the beauty of nature. All I can say is that glaciers are amazing and way to go James Balog

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Director: David Gelb
With: Jiro Ono, Takashi Ono, Yoshikazu Ono

I never liked Sushi nor I was interested in watching anything about it, so I wasn't that intrigued to watch this documentary when it was recommended by a friend. But I watched it anyway and I must say that it's highly enjoyable.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is about Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old sushi master chef who owns a Michelin three star restaurant Sukibayashi Jiro in Japan. It also follows his two sons, both of whom are also sushi chefs - Yoshikazu, the elder brother is obligated to succeed his father's legacy and Takashi, who opened a mirror version of his father's restaurant. The documentary also features Jiro's customers, critics, apprentices, friends and local suppliers.

Matched with the notable scores of Phillip Glass and other classical music, glossy shots of Jiro's restaurant despite being small, and simple yet mouth watering sushis of Jiro varying from eels, gizzards, squid, eggs, urchins, shrimps, lean, medium and fatty tunas, this documentary is such a pleasure to watch. Everything about it is so fascinating - from Jiro's tales about his history, to the engaging stories of his sons and colleagues, everything falls into Jiro's greatness. This documentary doesn't only rest on fascinating its viewers, but it also inspires with Jiro's great practices and wisdom. It's about honing your skills and pursuing your passion as it showed not only the stories of the people on top of the restaurant's hierarchy, but it also showed the beginnings of the apprentices working in Jiro's restaurant. Jiro adds to the list of successful and iconic men who did not excel in school but climbed up the ladder of success through hardwork, skill and exquisite approach in pursuing his strong interest. It's truly inspirational.

This documentary succeeds in entertaining and inspiring its viewers and even to its last few scenes, it amazes us with Jiro's touching twist. Kudos Jiro! One day, I'll visit your restaurant and I hope to meet you.