Thursday, February 27, 2020

'The Invisible Man' Shows Elisabeth Moss's Most Cutthroat Performance

What you can't see can't hurt you. Or does it?

Photo Credit: United International Pictures
Elisabeth Moss's character Cecilia, in this Universal Horror movie remake proves that wrong, as she gets out from a controlling and abusive relationship with a millionaire scientist who's both insanely intelligent and arguably insane. So when her ex replicates a thing or two from what seems like an entry from Amy Dunne's diary in Gone Girl, Cecilia suspects that it's only a vengeful plan to trap her back in their hypermodern house where every move is being watched by computers and CCTVs.

In its two-hour entirety, the film doesn't waste any second. From the get go, we see Cecilia maneuvering her way out of their house and as soon as she got out successfully, the intensity of the film just grows even bigger. There are no ghosts in this film and yet there are sequences that would give you eerie vibes. Director Leigh Whannell knows how to use his cinematographer's lenses and utilizes creepy silence to create a sinister feel surrounding Cecilia's life.

Thankfully, our protagonist knows her ex so well so she never makes any idiotic decisions that make the audience's viewing experience miserable. Unfortunately, it's different for her friends and family who despite being supportive of her, even when her claims about her ex seems impossible, her invisible ex is always one step ahead in making her look crazy and bad to the people around her.

So as much as the invisibility is scary, what's even more frightening is what a bitter ex could do to win a nasty breakup. The technical aspect of The Invisible Man is probably its weakest. The invisibility doesn't always look believable. Then again, Whanell makes up for it by establishing suspense in Cecilia's life--whether it's with her family, her friends, or with her ex.

In the end, it's going to astound because of Elisabeth Moss. The caliber of her acting here is nothing we've seen before. She's always been given this kind of faux-crazy material anyway. But she rises again in the the film's last act where she gave a cutthroat performance that will put her in the same league of epic femme fatales in film. She turns the stress around just by being good, both her character and her as an actress.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

'Little Women' is Cinema's Gift to Humanity

Being astonished by the grandness and extravagance of Greta Gerwig's direction of Little Women might be a pompous thing. After all, this is the same woman who wrote and directed Lady Bird and has shown that she's totally capable of turning simple things into gold just by her words and vision. But it is. It's truly surprising that she made this big, capital, marvel of a film, not because she's a woman, but she conceived this after her small but intimate freshman stint. Needless to say, this film is a gift.

Photo: Columbia Pictures
'Jo March' Saoirse Ronan, 'Amy' Florence Pugh, and 'Laurie' Timothée Hal Chalamet are right when they said during their press tour that the film is extraordinarily universal. The nostalgia in this hits too close to home whatever one's gender or age or religion is. It's almost basically what happens to Gerwig's Christine of Lady Bird after moving to New York City. Except Little Women goes way back to 1860s when author Louisa May Alcott's novel of the same name was penned. But there's almost no difference, especially when Gerwig's approach felt nothing short of current, timely, and relatable. It's still a period film but with the vigor of modernity. As a viewer, you could identify with any of the characters, or any of the March sisters, as their actions as young humans affect their lives as adults. It demands you to reflect, and it's mainly because of the timeline jumping back and forth--a Gerwig touch that fleshed out the book's essence even sounder.

Photo: Columbia Pictures
The adjacency of  the past and present is a genius stroke of Greta--from the representation of the golden slumber warmth of the past to the icy dark bluish atmosphere of the present; when Jo returns to their home, alone, for Beth, apposed to her walking with her sisters happy with their slight troubles; when Amy secretly painted Laurie from afar during their day at the beach vs her, painting Laurie by her side away from her sisters and most especially Jo; when Meg struggles to live with their lack of fortune only to be reminded that having her own family has always been what she wanted; and finally, when Jo reflects on her loneliness and somewhat regrets that she passed on the chance to be in a committed relationship with her childhood love--Greta knitted these pair of scenes so perfectly that the emotions are much more resonant, and the impact, stronger. Her way is the best way to tell Little Women. Yes, even after it's told several times in the past.

I guess it has to be said that the time jumps are not at all confusing. There's literally a "Seven Years Ago" inscription in its first flashback. It's not at all hard to keep up. Add the actors' bravura in portraying their characters in different ages. Everyone delivered. Emma Watson as Meg is perfect. Eliza Scanlen as Beth is aptly serene but never fades into the background. Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh, whose characters were mostly written to the forefront, are commanding and excellent. The whole ensemble brings warmth and joyful spirit to their characters that it transcends from the screen like a happy pill.
Saoirse Ronan as Jo March, Photo: Columbia Pictures
There's so much more to admire in this film, and by a lot, I mean the score, the script, Meryl, Laurie's obsession with Mr. Bhaer, etc. It's perfect. A true gift. I have a feeling this is going to be rewatched a lot and its effect is going to last for many years to come. Greta created a classic in her Little Women.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

'Birds of Prey' - Harley Quinn's Joyful Post-Breakup Story

Harley Quinn has just gotten out of a long-term and toxic, literally and figuratively, relationship with The Joker, which she calls Mr. J, and all I can think of is this would be a hit for some Filipino viewers who are very much into breakup movies. But breakup movie, it's slightly not. It's not a Harley Quinn origin film either. Rather, it's the inception of the DC popular gang 'Birds of Prey'--a group of women with a plethora of personalities that do crime and semi-heroic deeds together.

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
Still, Birds of Prey is very much a Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) movie. For the first time since they introduced this crazy colorful villain in films, she's feeling vulnerable and on the run from the Gotham authorities, including tough police detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), and crime lord Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor). She narrates her post-breakup story and how she's connected with all the different characters from the film, 'Birds of Prey' member and not.

Harley Quinn's story is told in bits and pieces of fun flashbacks which perfectly fits her persona. It's also filled with self-deprecating humor that quite opposes the approach they took for Suicide Squad. It's never about the emotional toll from her breakup but with Margot Robbie's high-caliber acting, there's always room for empathy. The flashbacks also give more time in introducing the lead villainesses without veering away from the current narrative of Quinn. We learn about Huntress's (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) tragic backstory which explains her cold introverted reluctance to social interplay. We also learn about Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), the woman with the killer cry who works for Roman Sionis as its club singer. Finally, we learn about the young and kleptomaniac Cassandra "Cass" Cain (Ella Jay Basco) who nicked a priceless gem and becomes the center of attention for real trouble including Roman. Her crime becomes instrumental as to why the group of Birds meet each other.

All of these characters have compelling arcs. Everybody's a scene-stealer in Birds of Prey. But the film sparkles brighter when Harley Quinn is on screen. They gave Margot Robbie a lot of material to be funny and crazy, and her commitment to her difficult character is an enjoyable sight--from her obsession with a certain Gotham bacon & egg sandwich, to getting distracted by a fancy purse while running away from the police, to unleashing confetti and glitters in the police department, and to owning a hyena and finding it cute. It could easily be a well-rounded film but Margot Robbie owns it like no other.

At a certain point, the craziness of it all becomes a little more serious in its third act with the action stunts becoming more intense and stakes getting higher. It includes Harley Quinn in a roller derby match on an elevated track, racing swiftly through Gotham (imagine Tonya Harding but more intense, but that's probably difficult to do) and a great scene with all the Birds fighting together inside an old carnival ride, which again perfectly fits the lead villain.

Birds of Prey's most impressive feat though is not through its performances or narrative or its stunts, it's its ability to become appealing even with less skin exposure for the actresses. It didn't rely on sex appeal. Instead, its charm relies from the characters' quirky personalities and humor. Unhappy maniacs be damned.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Ranking Sole Survivors

Photo: PinoyExchange (mars11)
I'm a fan of Survivor since I was in grade school and 20 years later, I still am. Probably not as die-hard as before but I've obtained a certain amount of loyalty for this show that I cannot seem to let go, and probably never will however different and controversial it has become over the years. It's one of my first favorite TV shows growing up and it has become a part of my routine two seasons per year. Like I have a love-hate relationship with it. I celebrate it, but I also criticize it nonstop.

As we approach the upcoming 40th All-Winner season, which also marks the show's 20th Anniversary, I feel like my excitement has never been this enormous. Who thought this will ever happen? That's why I thought of re-ranking the winners based on my personal preference which is extremely subjective and most of the time really petty, but feels true for my liking. I realized it's a bit different since I last ranked them, but some things still never change.

39th - Ben Driebergen (Heroes vs Healers vs Hustlers)

The only thing to know about my dislike for Ben is my love for Chrissy, whom he robbed of a win at the title. I'm the biggest Chrissy fan during the course of HHH so this placement should come as no shock to anyone who knows me. I'm sure that if this ranking were solely based on gameplay, Ben might have been a little bit higher, sure, but we all know what happened at the latter part of HHH. Unprecedented twists, and idols under Ben's nose. His apologists will keep on defending that it's not his fault he's on the outs and production wanted to help him but nah, it's borderline rigged and I'm being generous for calling it borderline. Sorry I didn't make the rules.

38th - John Cochran (Caramoan)

To quote the immaculate vilified blonde bombshell of South Pacific, Cochran, you disgust me. No, not really. I actually could say that Cochran played a decent game in SP with a straight face. But then when I realize that he's cast with literally half of supposed to be fans who obviously never watched a single episode of Survivor until they were told that they'd be on an island to play this game, with a bunch of returnees who were picked to bolster and give this Survivor nerd a redemption and a win, I want to erase the whole Caramoan season in my memory. If only for Brenda Lowe.

37th - Sarah Lacina (Game Changers)

Just thinking about Sarah Lacina's whole existence in Game Changers makes me yawn. Sure she made some ballsy moves. That advantage play with Cirie was ballsy considering it's Cirie she's bamboozling, but let's all face it--Sarah winning Game Changers is the least exciting outcome that season could ever have. Game Changers is basically All Stars redux where the least exciting players went far. But unlike Amber who won her second season, Sarah didn't have anything going for her character-wise.

36th - Denise Stapley (Philippines)

Denise might have one of the best journeys for a winner ever. She's the only winner who attended every single Tribal Council of her season and she still managed to win. It took Survivor 25 seasons to have that so it was really special during its time. But with all the other unnecessary twists and gimmicks the show had injected in it, her record just becomes stale in comparison to other winner's stories. But Denise is low here because I don't necessarily like her as a character. As a player, it's exciting that an old woman could kickass in the game. But her hatred and vile and mean-spirited holier than thou attitude to other players, especially towards Abi Maria, put her down in this list. She's condescending and self-righteous and I couldn't fathom any of it.

35th - Rob Mariano (Redemption Island)

Ick. When I think of Boston Rob's win, I think of his face when he couldn't swallow the raw fishes of Marquesas. I only like Rob Mariano in Heroes vs Villains but it's only because he aligned himself with two of the best of that cast, Sandra and Courtney. Pretty sure had he made it to the merge that I'll loathe him just like how I did with him in his other seasons. The guy is only "good" because he knows how to read people and interact with other people but not really? lol. He won a season in his fourth attempt and production pitted him against a bunch of either lunatics or idiots, including Russell Hantz who had all the target on his back. I'm sorry, but calling him one of the best, I will never understand. He's lucky Jeff Probst adores him, but we know Probst doesn't have good taste in players so...

34th - Amber Brkich (All Stars)

Not liking Amber is probably staying away from my brand but that's that on that. Amber is good and easy to look at, but she also is kind of despicable? lol. We cannot ignore the fact that she also married Boston Rob, who is one of the most misogynistic players the show has ever witnessed. Choices. And she's also in one of the worst tribes ever, Chapera. I couldn't re-watch All Stars especially the merge part because they dominated it. It's terrible. The only good thing about her is she beat Boston Rob and made a fool of him for a million dollars lol.

33rd - Tommy Sheehan (Island of the Idols)

The worst part of Tommy winning his season is it's filled with amazing female cast. Even Jeff Probst promised a group of femme fatales, and then we got a boring, not even impressive in the game, player who benefited from other players blunders and production driving the direction of the season via their hunger for twists and gimmicks. The good thing about his win though is he's the opposite of what the show is trying to epitomize. For a season with Island of the Idols in its title, Tommy won without having anything to do with it. It's a glaring signal and I wish Jeff Probst and co. could take a hint but alas, more lame twists in its All-Winners season.

32nd - Bob Crowley (Gabon)

Bob should probably be lower in this for being an alleged predator but he's in one of my favorite seasons which despite having a lackluster winner, it still rules. The real travesty here is not Bob winning, he's the most tolerable member of the Onion alliance, save for Charlie. The travesty here is the season could have been PERFECT had Susie or Sugar snatched that win. Susie was the instrument of the most pivotal move of the season while Sugar crafted some of the best blindsides while other players kept underestimating them. If only Sugar didn't go crazy, so I guess she's also partly to blame. BUT SUSIE!

31st - Ethan Zohn (Africa)

Not gonna lie, I'm excited to see him back for Winners at War, but yep, doesn't change the fact that he's just an okay winner. Not even okay, probably meh. He doesn't inspire any angst or love from anyone. He's neither a top-tier or a bottom-tier. He won Africa, a season that no one really talks about except if we're talking about the location or the Mall Rats. Besides, saying something negative about one of the most charitable winners who has survived cancer multiple times, a true inspiration, is kind of yaiks. So I'm leaving it there.

30th - Wendell Holland (Ghost Island)

Eek. Like Ethan, there's really almost nothing to say about Wendell. He won one of the worst seasons of Survivor, against some of the most boring players as well. Sure, I'm kind of happy that he beat Dominic, proving that social skills trumps strategy almost all of the time, in also a unique situation where one of the finalists decided who's going to win, but meh.

29th - Danni Boatwright (Guatemala)

Shock boot? Not really. Steph is the true star of Guatemala and anyone who says otherwise is just wrong. But I am actually excited to see her play again because to me, her win is a product of collective wrong moves by other players rather than her being the stealth bomber that she claims to be. There's nothing wrong with playing under the radar if that's what it takes to win Survivor, but I will always be more impressed with winners who played the game dominantly, and still managed to evade targets left and right. Danni's just not that.

28th - Tyson Apostol (Blood vs Water)

Whatever happens, Tyson will always be the cocky loser from Tocantins and the idiot blunderer from Heroes vs Villains. Him winning BvW is tragic because he's the last player who made a blunder that anyone wants to be redeemed. Redemption is cool, but it's so not for him. People also pretend that he played a great game in BvW, but I don't think it was anything special. He played with a bunch of family members that aren't even fans. They only exist to glorify their returnee family member and obviously, Tyson benefited from that. Rachel didn't even want to be there, let's be honest.

27th - Mike Holloway (Worlds Apart)

Ugh, collectively the Worlds Apart cast is kind of despicable, so even if Mike steamrolled the season, beating the rest of the vile players in the process, he's still not that likable as a winner. I mean, even the players with hero edits kinda suck? They're either a quitter or too self-righteous. Mike seemed like a regular good guy, but he also seems misguided. He also looks like a Trump supporter oops.

26th - Natalie White (Samoa)

Natalie winning against Russell Hantz is one of the best results the show has ever had. Proving yet again that Survivor is a social game first before anything else. Beating one of the most awful and notorious villains the show had ever seen should inspire a higher placement in this ranking. But I've always hated Foa Foa and was Team Galu all the way. That's the only reason why she's in this placement. Still, she beat Russell so that's definitely a plus. I'd even go ahead and declare that Parvati could learn a thing or two from how Natalie played the FTC against Russell. Then again, they're playing with different players in a different situation yada yada.

25th - Jeremy Collins (Cambodia)

He's against Tasha and Spencer in the finals of Cambodia so his win is definitely that season's best result, that's if we're only basing it from the Final 3. But Lord, we all know he's one of the dullest players that season and there's more than ten other players who could have won that season and will generate exciting reactions at least from me. His win in Cambodia is something I'm totally okay with and can respect. He let other players execute the BIG moves they didn't even have to do so that's cool. I just wish he has better taste in allies.

24th - James "J.T." Thomas (Tocantins)

On paper, he semi-owned his season, but Tocantins, as exciting as the cast is, is almost unrewatchable because of how many people bend over backwards to kiss on this player's ass. JT met absolutely zero rival in his season, with the exception of Stephen targeting him pathetically in the eleventh hour when all of his chances to legitimately do so were gone, gone, gone. It doesn't also help his case that I was Team Timbira, but justifying their actions is hard to do when all they did was pave the redcarpet for JT's impending win. It sucked. JT also has proven that he's not really that good of a player when challenged against other players. See HvV and Game Changers.

23rd - Nick Wilson (David vs Goliath)

Doing this, I realized that there's a lot of Survivor Winners that pull their season down because of them winning. Nick is one of them. He's incredibly lucky that he's a season with the likes of Angelina and Natalie Cole, because there's no way his season would drown with those names. Gameplay wise, he's nothing special. He's playing against good players but luck is a pivotal instrument to his win. He would have been the first player out if it weren't for Pat's medevac. I don't think he'd also fare so well against the other winners so we'll see. Good thing is he's also harmless. Hence, the placement.

22nd - Jud "Fabio" Birza (Nicaragua)

He used to be my last ranked winner but Fabio kinda stood the test of time? Him winning makes sense as production's punishment for letting Brenda's blindside see the light of day. So it's fitting that he won against someone who couldn't even play his idol for his ally, and someone who clearly has the hots on Brenda but couldn't even save her ass. Besides, Fabio looked like a legit likable goofy kid, and his humble presence in Survivor events post-show proves that.

21st - Yul Kwon (Cook Islands)

Hard to admit that I was Team Ozzy way back when Cook Islands was airing. But it's only because I never liked the Aitu4 and Ozzy was the most detached player in that group. I've always been a fan of Raro so Yul wasn't on top of my favorites both in CI and the entirety of Survivor. I also dislike that he's almost invincible because of his idol so his win will always be tarnished because of the advantages that basically gave him the bridge to the finals. BUT, I do acknowledge that he's a good politician who made the most of his idol and politicked his way to the win. Also helps that he seems like a decent human being lol.

20th - Vecepia Towery (Marquesas)

Despite liking Neleh more, Vecepia has survived my pettiness. It helps a lot that she's an old-school winner. I've always seen her as someone who's eyes were always on the prize, casually kissing other people's ass when she's at the bottom, while jumping into opportunities when other players give it to her. See the downfall of Rotu 4 and her pearl-clutching deal with Neleh in the Final 3. Those key moves are unexpected and whether you're rooting for her or not, we all respect her overall shrewdness. Bonus points for her dancing.

19th - Adam Klein (Millennials vs Gen X)

I don't know why he's this high but here we are. Probably because of the fact that he's a Survivor geek and his win is definitely a win for all of the young fans who watched the show and wanted to be on the show. His story about his mom is always touching but my favorite thing about Adam, or moreso his win, is never about his background. It's always been about his struggle to get to the end. He wasn't always on top but he won key challenges, made moves at the right time, and defeated the other players who shared the same road as him. Now if we're talking about Adam as a character, then it's a different story.

18th - Earl Cole (Fiji)

Earl is the opposite of other winners. His season is overall meh, but his underdog yet dominant win is terrific. And even if he's tagged as an underdog, to me he's the King of Fiji. Bow down! In the game, he started with a huge advantage by getting stuck on the Have-Nots tribe (a bullshit twist) with some of the most unfortunate players. Because of this, his tribe lost every single Immunity Challenge and he ended up in the minority after the bullshit swap. And yet, his win wasn't comparable to the likes of Chris and Danni because he still managed to call the shots despite being in the minority. Thanks to good allies and players like Yauman and Stacy, and idiots aka the Four Horseman, an Earl win happened.

17th - Chris Underwood (Edge of Extinction)

I will always be anti Edge of Extinction. It's unnecessary, it defeats the game's purpose, it hoards airtime that could be allotted for character development, and just a total nonsense of a twist. Having said that, I'll also always be a Chris Underwood win fan lol. He beat all the odds going against him and he did what he had to do for the jury to respect his game. He made the most out of his random return from EOE including a huge risk that could definitely eliminate him permanently in the game. Super impressive. If Lauren couldn't win, then I'm glad Chris won.

16th - Brian Heidik (Thailand)

Like him or not (which is totally understandable), Brian's win is impressive because he's one of the least likable players not only in his season, but the entirety of Survivor. He's not in any way despicable, but he's also not amiable or anything. He also clearly owned Thailand. He's also not my favorite, and I think this is just his Briannaisance because I'd love to see him play again. His absence probably makes me miss his presence in the Survivor world. Although he might be just out there killing animals, so I guess I should have ranked him a little bit lower.

15th - Tom Westman (Palau)

Also not a huge fan of Tom back in Palau but he clearly redeemed himself in Heroes vs Villains. I still give him credit for ousting Cirie whose ego was aggravating that season. He's high in this ranking because his win in Palau was and will always be undeniable. Like Brian, he owned that season from start to finish. No one even stood a chance. He played Palau as if everyone couldn't make a move against him because he's got everyone in the palm of his hands. Amazing and boring to watch at the same time. Minus points because he's a misogynist.

14th - Chris Daugherty (Vanuatu)

On one hand, I love Chris as a player and as a winner because the odds were against him almost the whole game, hello he's almost the first one out, but he emerged to be a great woman-reader in a merged tribe filled with feminazies and played with their stereotypes and ended up triumphant. On the other, it's so against my brand to like a male winner when he's up against a bunch of amazing women of Survivor who are all capable of winning the game if they put aside their differences and didn't play with their emotions. Still, part of the reason why I love Chris is because the girls shined more because of his existence.

13th - Michele Fitzgerald (Kaoh Rong)

Stanning Michele is quite fashionable especially when everyone keeps on invalidating her victory. I have always been a fan of hers while also being a fan of Aubry. If Aubry won Kaoh Rong, I thought she'd have a better storyline for a winner. But my love for Michele keeps growing perhaps because of her haters and nonbelievers. She's a true underdog that genuinely played a great social game that despite not being seen as a strategic force while being against with one, she still won her season. It doesn't hurt that she seems like a lovable human being I'd love to hangout with for real.

12th - Tina Wesson (The Australian Outback)

Proud Kucha fan in Australia, and the castaways I adored in Ogakor were Amber & Jerri, so I always viewed Tina as a devil in sheep's clothing. But my love trumps all the negative opinion I have for Tina because of how I respect her game in all of the seasons she's in. Older women tend to have a harder time than any stereotypes on Survivor because they're clearly outnumbered if we look at the collective age of any cast, so the fact that she overcome that odd against her in the show's second season is a true achievement. It's like if any woman complains about their age, we can just look back at Tina's win and shut the fuck up.

11th - Aras Baskauskas (Panama)

It bodes well for Aras that Jeff Probst wasn't into his ass throughout his stay in his season even if he's considered as a Golden Boy. He's real, he's normal, he's probably the most boring out of his dysfunctional Casaya alliance, but that's actually also the reason why he's one of my favorites. He was able to never let any of his crazy allies go astray. It also bodes well for him that he cockblocked Terry from winning that season because imagine. Although looking back, thank God for Terry because he slightly diminished the huge target on Aras's back since the merge.

10th - Sophie Clarke (South Pacific)

Sophie is one of the most underrated winners in the history of the game and I blame the editing department for that, maybe Probst too. They clearly wanted to redeem Coach's image and they did their best to give him the win. But Sophie is Sophierce and never allowed production to prevail. It's not known that Sophie was my favorite during SoPa, but yes let it be known that she's also my winner pick since the beginning. I've always been impressed by her gut, her spunk, and her fluency in Russian. She's also a great HBIC who's not afraid to call mansplainers and put them on their place. Her breakdown at the 2nd to last TC was amazing.

9th - Jenna Morasca (Amazon)

As a kid watching Jenna, I thought she's amazing. Like Sophie, she's also my winner pick since the beginning and I've rooted for her (and Heidi) right after they released the cast, and they delivered. It's fun rooting for her especially by the end when she beat all the odds to win the game. She even beat Rob C. who for a time was considered as the best player to never win the game. So imagine my surprise when I got sucked into forums and other Survivor fansites only to read disapproving posts about her win, and how bratty she was during Amazon, when I always thought she's fierce, great, and rootworthy. Oh well, she won and that's what matter. In a fun way too!

8th - Sandra Diaz Twine (Heroes vs Villains)

Shock boot? Hell yes! Even I, as I am typing this, am a little shocked that she's this low in my ranking. I've always been a fan of Sandra since Pearl Islands but we'll get there later. It's just that I feel like her PI win is way more entertaining, dominant, and overall celebration-worthy. In Heroes vs Villains, she's still the hilarious queen that we know who never backs down to anyone who crosses her. And she does it in a sly manner if needed, and in-your-face when needed as well. And she does that while gaining respect from her competitors. I think she's only this low because I'm also a fan of Parvati and juggling their pros and cons can be difficult. All I can say is, she's amazing in Heroes vs Villains. Let's just leave it at that. I love a fun winner!

7th - Richard Hatch (Borneo)

How can anyone put Hatch anyone below 10, or even 5? So sorry to the King for ranking him 7th. It's the best that I can do considering all my favorites, bias, and pettiness. Richard is the inventor of alliances. He basically blueprinted the game, or how it should be played. Sure, it was tweaked several times throughout the years but he's still the original. The way he played Survivor was never the production intended it to be played. Unless they did, but they didn't expect it to be played as bluntly as Rich did. That's why he's also considered a villain in his season with Kelly being the hero. I've always been a fan of Kelly but I never once detested Rich's win. It wasn't considered a happy ending, but it's an event that made Survivor a serious game of strategy and intellect that we've grown to love through the years.

6th - Tony Vlachos (Cagayan)

I hated Tony during Cagayan. I was team Chaos Kass and Tasha. But what I LOVE about his win is apart from the fact, that it's an impressive feat considering how he flipped-flop from one ally to the next every single episode, is that I never predicted it to happen and it did. I was so blindsided because he had the same inflated edit as Russell Hantz so I always KNEW that he's going to have his downfall. Throughout the game, I was sure that he's never gonna win. But he did, and it's super impressive. I doubt anyone could duplicate what he's achieved in Cagayan. Also, more kudos to him for making that season a hell of an entertainment. We were hopeful for our favorites because of his flip-flopping.

5th - Todd Herzog (China)

Before Adam Klein, there's Todd--the winner that won for all the Survivor geeks of the universe. Something only a few self-proclaimed die-hard fans achieved in the game. For some time, Survivor fans had a bad rep in playing the game until Todd came who dominated the game from start to finish, even earning respect from the likes of Jean-Robert who acknowledged Todd's threat status from the beginning but didn't do anything against it lul. He's a winner who had a clear plan from the beginning and he stuck by it and it worked. It doesn't hurt that he has GREAT taste in allies--aligning himself with one of my favorite players ever Courtney Yates. I'll always love Todd's win. His win felt like every Survivor fans won as well.

4th - Natalie Anderson (San Juan del Sur)

Besides being a fuck you to Jeff Probst who underestimated the twins and TAR in general, I love Natalie and her win because it's so reminiscent of an ORG game. Her journey to the win was long and we saw every pieces of it episode per episode, and it was such an entertaining, compelling, and nerve-wracking slowburn but it's all worth it in the end when she won against one of my favorites also, Jaclyn. I also have to give the editing some credit because they let Natalie's narrative speak so soundly that we were beside her in every piece of plan and execution that she did. It's one of the best last wins of the game. Not to mention, her win bookended SJDS with Nadiya being the first boot.

3rd - Parvati Shallow (Micronesia)

I agree, Parvati might be the best Survivor player ever. She has charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent that got her successful in the game. Yes, even after her second season where she won. She's the true treasure of Survivor. She's a master strategist, but she's fun at it. She's a social butterfly, but it's innate. She's a challenge beast, and dominant at it. Won key wins to make her moves. She's just an all-around player that's so pleasurable to watch. A season with Parvati is always exciting because she just gets out of sticky situations. Sure, with the help of her allies, but she has allies because of her appeal. People are always going to undermine her win in Micronesia, and even her gameplay in HvV, because they're insecure. Needless to say, she owned Micronesia. There's a female alliance because of her. She truly engineered it. Without discrediting Cirie, who really helped that alliance to succeed, it was Parvati who formed it and things happened because of her.

2nd - Sandra Diaz Twine (Pearl Islands)

"I can get loud too, WTF!!!". Sandra is the real deal from minute one. They gave her one of the most prominent edit in the premiere of Pearl Islands, and since it, she delivered every single time. Of course, she works best by clinging with a physically stronger member of her tribe, but that's part of her plan to get to the end. She's not strong physically, and she can't be voted out because of it so she has to cling to other strong players and create a clique and she did. BUT her game in Pearl Islands took a sky high when her biggest shield Rupert was voted off, proving that she didn't stay under someone's shadow to make it to the end. "As long as it ain't me", she said and that's what she did. She's so good at putting bad seeds on anyone's ear, that she's able to maneuver from the constant shifting of targets in Pearl Islands. One day she's working with Tijuana, the next day she's working with Fairplay, as long as it's beneficial to her longevity in the game. It's so fun to watch her scheme like a true chismosa and shit-stirrer. It's only a bonus that she's HIGHLY entertaining because she really knows how to PLAY the game.

1st - Kim Spradlin (One World)

Survivor has had several dark phases in its long run, and once upon a time Jeff Probst started to self-murder Survivor by adding unnecessary twists namely Redemption Island + Medallion of Power into the game, which gave birth to Nicaragua, RI, and South Pacific. Now, I LOVE Nicaragua but RI and SoPa is probably the darkest duo next to EOE and IOTI. Along came One World and Kim Spradlin, they saved Survivor from the ashes, at least from me, and I demand everyone to agree. With Jeff Probst taking over the EP role, all he wanted was bring back his man crushes which include Ozzy (yawn), Coach (lol), Hantz (fml), and Boston Rob (again). Kim defied all of these shit and demanded male annihilation. A female alliance is formed for her, and of course she accepted it because duh, and turned out to be their Head Alpha Bitch In Charge who is trusted by all despite her manipulating all of them at some point. To be fair, she's not a manipulative witch. I think one of the reasons why she's successful on Survivor is she also has a heart and knows when to rarely use it. She cared for Kat, she cried with Chelsea, she basically has a heart. But when it's time to use her head, she doesn't hold back. She masterfully orchestrated blindsides especially during the merge even when it's about to crumble because other players suddenly decides to play the game. She prevented others from blabbing her plans, and she made everyone believe that she's with them, and when they realized she's not, they got nothing but respect for her. It's a true testament to her win, and it's so dominant, and it's so out there and yet she's unbeatable. No one from that cast could win against her with the game that she showed.

Kim Spradlin played the best game of all-time. She's dominant and unbeatable. Physically? She's a beast. She even shares the record of winning four ICs by a female in one season. Socially? She had everybody eating out of the palm of her hand. Everyone trusted her. Her beautiful eyes surely helped. Strategically? She always knew the best move for her and was always open to a variety of promising options made for and by her. It's no wonder I feel in love with Kim. I really believe that she's the BEST WINNER EVER. Hands-down.

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That's all folks. I have spoken. Thanks for reading! Can't wait for S40.

Monday, January 20, 2020

'Bad Boys For Life' - Some Old School Comedic Duo Never Die

Almost two decades have passed since the last entry of the Bad Boys franchise, so it's easy to say that the younger generation might not be familiar of them. But it won't be a problem since Bad Boys For Life pretty much established from the get-go, that the "Bad Boys" themselves, Mike Lowery (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence), are a fun, dangerous, and unpredictable crime-fighting comedic duo, only they're older and questionably wiser.

Photo: Columbia Pictures

It starts with a dangerous threat that emerges to endanger Mike's life which automatically pulls back Marcus in their life as cops after trying to step back and spend more time with his family. But now that they're a little less capable, they're joined by the elite new police unit Advance Miami Metro Operations (AMMO), which has introduced high-tech investigative tactics to the Miami P.D, and let's face it, some fresh spunk, energy & muscle, which brings out a little bit of insecurity from the veterans. The old school versus new school dynamic is highlighted in the guys' dealings with this state of the art. It's noisy and fun, but the mini rivalry rightfully didn't last long.

Old school comedy and action are expected in a Bad Boys film. It's essentially what Bad Boys is about apart from love-hate brotherhood. But what sets this apart from its previous outing is a grounded plot, almost telenovela complete with "bruha", that works and balance the daddy jokes and whatnot. Think of what Empire Strikes Back did to the Star Wars franchise. It's almost the same, except that the additional layer ended when this threequel's end credits start to roll.

In short, it's a complete film with a plot that works only for this film but broadens the background of the titular "Bad Boys". Not to mention, this film is also well-acted. This might be one of Will Smith's best performances, in both comedy and drama. Martin Lawrence, on the other hand, is hilarious as always without trying too hard. Their accustomed theatrics still work to this day, and if we are being honest, we only want this film to be funny and action-packed. And it is. The comedy works and the action blasts. And it's even more. And it's really entertaining.