Sometimes, a film surprises you. In the best possible way. I didn’t see this film because for some reason I thought this had a sci-fi angle but this is exactly the kind of popcorn romantic drama I crave. This is ‘The Boy In The Plastic Bubble’ but more than that this is ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ with all the non-subtleties: She wears all while, he wear all black. There’s even two rooms across from each other, and she even has a nurse.
And even as I acknowledge big holes in the story, I will also be the first person to say that the story, the characters got me hook, line, and sinker.
And it’s all because of the actors who play the lovers – Madeline, as played by Amanda Stenberg and Nick Robinson as Ollie. They are two charming actors who bring a lot of charm to their roles. I always say even the most clíched characters if played by great actors will be believable. I believed. There are details in the end that will make you roll eyes but at that point you will probably too invested with these characters, and you will just go along.
If you are a hopeless romantic, like myself, this will make you remember your first love. Like what Madeline writes in the film: Love is Everything.
‘Waffle Street’ is a film based on Jimmy Adams’ memoir of the same title, where he chronicled his ‘fall from grace’ going from a Fixed Income trader to serving tables at a local waffle house, and this happened after the economic meltdown of 2008. It’s an interesting enough story, but it feels a little sleight for a feature film. James Lafferty plays Adams, and he is fine in the role – cute and charming – but while watching the film, I couldn’t help but want for something more – more depth, more drama, more dynamics. The film, as it stands, is mostly fine, but truly forgettable. Sometimes being boring is a bigger crime.
I just saw two films in a couple of days with similar themes – taking care of elderly people. This topic is very close to me because I went through it, and in some ways I am kind of glad that I have ‘graduated’ from it, but it certainly is a story that can be told in very different ways.
Amanda Sharpe’s ‘Sticky Notes’ stars Rose Leslie as a struggling dancer in Los Angeles who gets ‘summoned’ by her father in Florida after he reveals to her that he has been diagnosed with cancer. So she sets out to visit at first, and goes through the process of giving care to his father as he starts chemotherapy. Ray Liotta plays his father – rough, gruff, difficult. (I was racking my brain the whole first part of the film to see where I knew Rose Leslie from, for she seemed ver familiar, until I realized she is in that spinoff of The Good Wife on CBS.) Their strained father-daughter relationship gets a boost here, and things get fairly predictable after. There is a little bit of unnecessary epilogue here but all in all this is a pleasant if perfunctory film about loss, love, and all its accessories.
I liked the ‘The Carer,’ much better. This is a British-Hungarian production that more or less treads the same formula. An elderly Shakespearean actor, played by Brian Cox gets taken cared of by a young Hungarian actress, and yadda yadda yadda they learn more from each other. I mean, I can just give you the synopsis and you can more or less tell what the film would be like. But the script here has a lot of nice touches, and Coco Konig makes a fine debut as the caregiver. Or perhaps I am just an Anglophile – the sights and sounds of London and British countryside was very much appealing to me from start to finish, and of course, Brian Cox holds the screen effortlessly. The feel of this film is more TV movie, but i’s quite rewarding nonetheless.
I figured since it’s Easter, I might as well write about something related to it, and I searched and searched until I found this new-ish movie titled ‘The Resurrection of Gavin Stone.” It is produced by Vertical Church Films Production, and to me that’s sounded scary, and I was expecting some kind of propaganda film meant to sway people into concerting to Christianity – these people are always recruiting.
It’s not really all the way like that, to be honest. There’s a sweet little film here, with an expected message, and predictable story. I don’t think there was one surprise here – it is exactly what you think it will be. Gavin Stone (an adorable Brett Dalron) is a troubled former child star who gets sentenced to two hundred hours of community service, which he has to serve in church. He starts out in a janitorial position but finds out the church is in the process of mounting an Easter play, so he inserts himself in there to play the role of Jesus, and of course there’s a little road block, the director, played by Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, playing one of those predictably uptight Christians. Hilarity ensues, and you can tell the by-the-numbers script what happens after and at this point. The movie means, well, but it is not bigger than a Hallmark movie channel (that network is referenced in one of the dialogues) It’s not a bad film, just a forgettable one, and sometimes that’s worse.
Mental Illness is a serious issue, but it could be hard to watch. Imagine if this was a premise for a movie, a love story to boot. ‘The Other Half’ has an appealing couple, played by Tom Cullen and Tatiana Maslany, but i found it unwatchable. It did not help that there was not much plot there, and I kept waiting for something to happen, and nothing much ever did. The two actors are nice to look at, but that only takes you so far. This is a miss for me.
Someone described this film as a movie version of ‘Girls,’ and I think it’s apt, because I felt the characters here are as annoying as the ones from Lena Dunham’s show. BFFs Mackenzie (Elise Bauman) and Cassie (Natasha Negovanlis) live in the same house and have known each other forever, yet for some strange reason, Mackenzie still has not confessed to Cassie that she is gay. Even her parents just shrug her coming out. I thought that for millennials, sexual orientation wasn’t a major issue, yet in Director Sarah Rotella’s film here, it becomes the major plot point. Besides that, though, I found nothing to like about the characters in the film and couldn’t care less if they kissed, died or had eggs for breakfast. Is it just old age that is making me react like this?
If we were still in a very misogynistic world (some would argue we still are) then we could make a statement that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. Juanita’s domain is in the kitchen, and the kitchen is the silent witness to her life, providing constancy and comfort for her. A lot of Filipino culture is centered around the kitchen, and ‘Kusiba’ (translated to kitchen) is in a lot of ways a mirror of Filipino life.
Juanita’s story starts before the Second World War and goes through the turbulent Marcos years. It’s really a simple story of a woman and her life lived, but it becomes a lot more because of Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo’s astounding performance as Juanita. Santos-Agoncillo is one of the last of those actresses with genuine star power. Her simplicity lights up the screen, and her maturity and experience has even given more layers in her performances here. She handles Juanita here with skillful subtleties – it is never over, even when sometimes it calls for it. But because she has great artistic instincts, she knows how to rein herself in. Witness her breakdown scene towards the end of the movie – it seasoned just enough. A hand of a lesser actress would have given it excess. (Could you imagine that other ‘Santos’ doing that scene – she’d be flailing her arms and lifting her legs up in the air) Look at her luminescence int he film scene of the movie – she was able to convey happiness and contentment without saying a word. Few can do that, and she does it extremely well.
Her performance elevates the movie, which could at times be problematic. I have no problems with its limitations, but I have to admit that at times the film feels claustrophobic. It’s theatrical in set up, and shot on a sound stage, and I do wonder if the material written by Cenon Palomares, was originally written for theater. He, along with David Corpuz directed the film. It may sound like I am nit picking, but I am not. I truly enjoyed the film, and found myself touched towards the end, thinking about Juanita’s character after the film ended. maybe I just miss my mother who passed on twenty six years ago.