Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Cody Cameron/Kris Pearn) **1/2 - I liked the original quite a bit. It had a clever, original concept combined with some funny gags and great animation. The sequel still has great animation and clever, funny gags particularly the ones involving the "Foodimals". But apart from those, the plot is kind of predictable and generic and a lot of the surprises and cleverness of the original is sadly lost. Although I must say, the Foodimals must be this franchise's version of the Minions. Those critters are undeniably fun to watch and like the Minions, it simply highlights how bland the human characters and the actual story of it really is.
Colgados de un Sueno
(Antonio Perez Molero) **1/2 - I walked into this having no idea what it's
about. It was inexpensive screening at the Spanish Film Festival. As it turns
out, it's a documentary about Fernando Zobel, a Spanish abstract painter (and I
suspect a relative of the Zobel-Ayalas, the rich Spanish-Filipino family who
owns the theaters and indeed a lot of corporations and properties over here). I
had no knowledge and little interest in the subject. However, great
documentaries can grip an audience who have little knowledge and interest in
their subject matters. Unfortunately, this film is not for the uninitiated. I
feel like a Philistine saying that this was a tough sit for me because this
documentary is aimed at people already interested and knowledgeable about the
subject. It's well-made but only, AT BEST, only occasionally mildly interesting
for me (and I consider myself fairly open-minded and cultured but this is a
blind spot). I recommend this only to the initiated.
Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass)
***1/2 - Despite the fact that I already knew the ending, having heard about
this story AS IT HAPPENED, just like what he managed to do with United 93, director Paul Greengrass managed to
mine a lot of suspense out of it and crafted a real edge-of-your-seat thriller.
Tom Hanks also gives one of the best performances he has ever given in quite a
while. One of my fears about this film is that the Somali pirates will be
portrayed as cartoony villains. But to my surprise, the film treated them
fairly, humanizing them and making the audience understand why they are doing
this without glamorizing or justifying their actions. A huge chunk of the credit
must go to newcomer Barkhad Abdi who creates a memorable human character. I know
about the charges of inaccuracies but frankly, I'm just judging as a film. It's
not a documentary.
The Phantom of the
Paradise (Brian DePalma) ***1/2 - It's a weird, crazy, far out early
Brian DePalma that's basically a VERY loose adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera setting it up as a
modern-day rock musical. The film is visually spectacular in a very
DePalma-esque type of way. It's also quite funny and very biting in its satire
on the way show business treats its artists. My one beef (hehehe) is that since
it's a musical, the songs are not as great as the film itself. They're not bad.
They're just pretty good but I feel that the story and craft of the film deserve
better songs than what was there. But still, a pretty darn good rock musical. I
feel like going as the Phantom of the Paradise for Halloween.
Passion (Brian De Palma) ** - Like many
cinephiles, I'm a huge fan of director Brian De Palma, up to and including many
of his later works which a lot of mainstream critics tend to give mixed to
negative reviews to. I was hoping this would be again the case here but alas.
This film pretty much harkens back to De Palma's erotic thrillers from the
1980's. This is a woman-centric look into the backstabbing nature of the
corporate world. Think Showgirls but
instead of Vegas, it's in shiny office buildings. It borders on camp but not
quite to make it great. The third act goes crazy in the way that's very De Palma
but a lot of it are stuff he has done before and done better in other films so
he's sadly repeating himself and not in a particularly great way. This is a
weak, disappointing effort from a great filmmaker.
The Mummy (Karl Freund) *** - This is the only
major Universal monster I have not seen until now. I must say that it is sadly
my least favorite among all the Universal monster movies I've seen so far.
However, it's not a bad film at all. It's all largely thanks to Boris Karloff
who plays the title character. He is creepy, scary and yet gives the character
depth and humanity. Karloff alone makes it worth seeing and makes this film
superior to anything Brendan Fraser and CGI-action sequences can offer.