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31 Days of #AAPIFilmz (Pt. I)


HOLY SHIT. I first saw "The Imposter" trailer back in February and was haunted by the impossible and mind-blowing story. For some reason, they took the video down but now, there is an official U.S. trailer for Bart Layton's documentary about Frederic Bourdin. Bourdin is an adult French criminal who deceived authorities and convinced them that he was the 16-year-old missing child from Texas. Um, say what?! This is one story you have to see to believe. Through gifted filmmaker Layton's eye-catching dramatization and electrifying structure, the story unravels like an consuming thriller. Thank goodness Indomina acquired 'The Imposter' so we will all be able to believe it when we see it on July 13. I'm still getting chills up and down my spine... 
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Check out my reaction to G.I. Joe: Retaliation postponing their movie to next year here.

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Check out these incredible banners for 'The Dark Knight Rises.' These little sneak peeks really create more anticipation as well as bittersweet feelings for the end of Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy. It's heartbreaking to hear that the trilogy will all be over but I'm sure he's not going to go without a huge bang. The film comes out on July 20th.

(click on each of the posters for epic detail)





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The Great Gatsby trailer is out already! I dont think it'll be necessary for me to explain the plot of Gatsby unless you've been living in a cave for the last ninety years or so. But just in case you were, 
it's basically about this kid name Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) who becomes fascinated by the lush and extravagant lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo Dicaprio).  Carraway is invited into Gatsby's circle of friends and becomes a witness to obsession and misfortune.

At first I was like what the heck is this? The film is coated with silicon modernity that cheapens the film entirely. And why are they using the Jay-Z/Kanye song from the movie Safe House (2012)? But after i soon realized that the director was Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Australia), I'm starting to understand the appeal. Maybe I am biased but if there was one person that could make a film like this with such a ridiculously modern twist, it's Luhrmann and Luhrmann only. Of course, we should still hold onto our doubts after seeing the trailer but it's worth a shot to see what Baz has turn it into. Will it be a Frankenstein or a Mona Lisa? I guess we'll find out when it comes out on Christmas 2012. That is, if we're not all dead yet. 
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Theres a new Michel Gondry film coming out and I know fans couldn't be happier. What I expect is the usual witty, whimsical, and mind-bending stories that he has been known for. But after watching 'The We and The I' trailer, it feels more like an optimistic version of Larry Clark's Kids (1995.) It tells a heartfelt story about the final bus ride home for a group of high school students and graduates. It has the coming-of-age charm to it but don't let that fool you. It seems like its packed with punches of freshness that we haven't witnessed before so candidly. The film premieres at Cannes this month, but has no release date yet. But its GONDRY, i expect to see a release date later on this year and i cant wait. It's so raw and emotionally charged. The film industry needs this kind of film. I need this kind of film. And after all the blockbusters, I think we will all need this kind of film. Thank you, Gondry. 
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Year: 2012
Director: Tim Burton
Region of Origin: U.S.
Rating: PG-13
Time: 113 mins

Like most Tim Burton films, Dark Shadows is filled with such eccentricities that can only be enjoyed by a few. The target audiences are either Burton fans, who will watch anything he comes out with or the fans of the actors. I mean Chloe Moretz in a Tim Burton film, IM IN! Guilty as charged, I fall into both of these categories. Even though the film is an adaptation of the 60’s broadcast of Dark Shadows, most of the audiences were in their teens to early twenties who probably have never heard of Dark Shadows before this film. Embarrassingly, I must admit that I fell asleep. Possibly from the lack of sleep the night before or because of the sheer prolonged and unsensical happenings on screen. Which is the real reason is still unknown.

After being rejected by Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp), servant Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green) kills his parents and the love of his life Josette DuPres (Bella Heathcote). If that wasn’t enough she turns him into a vampire and buried alive for 200 years so that his suffering would never end.  

This is Johnny Depp and Tim Burton’s Eighth collaboration together and it feels as if Depp is evolving and Burton is just treading in the same chill pool of darkness for all these years. I mean, if it’s not broken don’t fix it right? Every single character that Depp has played through Burton’s vision is continuously without a doubt engraved in people’s mind for all of pop culture eternity. Even in this weirder than his usual character as Barnabas Collins, he speaks eloquently and as-a-matter-of-factly. Collins with his caked face and vampire gear stands out like a sore thumb in the midst of the bellbottom, long hair, and free loving hippie era of 1970’s. Yet again, even though the film wasn’t completely satisfactory, Depp has created a character that is worthy of remembrance.


Rather than focusing on the plot, this film was filled with quirky and memorable characters. Every single character from Chloe Moretz’s teenage angsty Carolyn Stoddard to newcomer Bella Heathcote as Victoria Winters’ ice cold eyes and melodic voice is a charm all in it’s own. Heathcote plays both Barnabas’s long lost love, Josette and Governess of the youngest Collins boy who can see ghosts, David Collins (Gulliver McGrath), Victoria Winters.  The best part of Burton’s films is that he discovers these diamonds in the rough types and most of them so happens to be found in Australia. Like Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland), Heathcote is Australian and won the Heath Ledger scholarship, an award set up by the actor’s family after his death to give Australian actors a chance to make it in L.A. After moving to L.A. and getting a few jobs, in 2010, her manager called and said "Tim Burton saw your picture", and that was that! I don’t know if it was her icy, gothic look that captivated Burton but it was her unexpectedly endearing voice that caught my attention. 


I'm also enthralled that Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, Watchmen) was part of the Collins clan as their drunken manor caretaker. He is such an underrated actor! Everyone in Dark Shadows couldn’t have been more better casted. No one actor overpowered another with their “superior” acting skills or whatnot. They were individually memorable and quirky in their own way. Moretz did not let me down either.  Her character has Carolyn Stoddard portrayed exactly what a teenager from the 1970’s would be. Despite her only being fourteen at the time of the filming, her character oozed with sexuality, angst, and rebellion. And seriously, don't get me started on Michelle Pfeiffer! I was so glad to see her in another film, it just felt so long since I last saw her in Stardust (2007). I can't believe she was in New Year's Eve (2011) either. That's pretty low Michelle, I know you can do better. She was able to show us a different side of her as sour-faced woman of the house, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard.


If the film is sliced into moment and segments, it truly shows the character's individual quality that make Dark Shadows so great. But put the whole picture together, the story lacks the coherent messages that films need. It gets lost halfway in the midst of Alice Cooper's performance at the Collins mansion (and the point was...?) The point was for funsies and nothing more. We get it, now get back to the story. I guess it was about 3/4 of the way through, my eyelids started to get heavy. And during the climax, something so bizarre happened, i wasn't sure if i was dreaming or not. As a Tim Burton fan, I used to go to watch his films to drown myself in his idiosyncrasies as a filmmaker. But now after Alice in Wonderland (2010), I go for mindless fun. Now, that's another thing I dont know if it's a good thing or not. B

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Year: 2012
Director: Joss Whedon 
Region of Origin: U.S.
Rating: PG-13
Time: 143 mins.

The accumulation of the Marvel comic hero films for the past years with Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America, and Thor has come down to this moment and film, The Avengers. Joss Whedon who got his start in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a self-proclaimed mega comic nerd so it is only natural that he direct one of the biggest movie franchise that we may ever see. Unlike the other Marvel films, what Joss has done with the Avengers is remarkably refreshing and honestly, surprising. Hollywood has had many trial and errors and finally learned that with good storytelling, acting, and in this case, superb special effect, the viewers and critics will come.

When Loki (Thor’s bro, Tom Hiddleston) arrives through a wormhole and steals the Tesseract—a cosmic cube can potentially save or destroy our planet and threatens the global safety and security of Earth, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Director of the International peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D finds himself in need of a team to save the world.

Joss Whedon who directed and wrote The Avengers does two things that propels the Action-hero genre to whole other level.  For one, he brings unexpected realism into the mixing pot. Pop cultural references and superheroes ego and flaws are dished out on crystal plate with dazzling comic timing that you will catch yourself laughing at something that resembles much like a joke from Superbad. It’s so true that you can’t help but laugh at its hilariously frank and surprising joke. No joke, there were roars of laugher spitting from every row, I thought I was at a rodeo. And two, he equally presents each of the character and their own demons from the beginning and manages to intertwine the stories with the other heroes with such precision that will make you wonder if he mapped it with a knife. In Thor, I perceive Loki as a threat but rather an insecure, power-hungry, black sheep of the family. But in The Avengers, he is so sly and devious it will make you reestimate his powers and strength.


The movie started out like any other Blockbuster that left me mindlessly gazing at the screen but half way through the movie (after the initial bitch fight each superhero have with each other) when Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is chasing Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), my mind woke up, I leaned forward, and my eyes gleamed with excitement. While watching Captain American fight some bad guys that it came to my attention that yeah, you don’t need superpowers to make a decent action film (ahem, Safe).  It’s all action choreography that shows the variety of fighting with guns, their fists, and maybe a fancy leg move. Which brings me to Scarlett Johannson. I was starting to doubt Hollywood in their ability to show a superwoman who can truly kick ass on screen and not just be a sex eye-candy. Johansson said that the most questions she was asked while being interviewed about The Avengers was “What was Scarlett wearing under her catsuit? What kind of underpants were you wearing?” Does that really matter asshole? Considering Black Widow is a spy instead of a “soldier,” all her battles were done through mental manipulation, gunfights, and ninja-like ass kicking. Whedon has tried to launch a Wonder Woman movie for several years now but Studios continue to tell him that a woman cannot headline an action movie. Due to the popularity of The Hunger Games, it might just change all that. Well I hope so, cause a Black Widow movie sounds pretty great right about now.


It was surprising to find out that the Iron Man franchise and Thor director are none other than actors themselves, Jon Favreau and Kenneth Branagh, respectively. I honestly didn’t know it was THAT Jon Favreau but Favreau nonetheless. There has been a trend going on lately to potentially create more hype or just more money like usual by releasing Blockbuster films in foreign countries first before the U.S. The movie business hasn’t been popping lately and it’s known that internationally studios can make more money because foreigners are willing to shell out big bucks for 3D Blockbusters. That’s one reason and another is because U.S. audiences are the biggest fans of these comics so they wanted to create more anticipation and hype surrounding the film and potentially rack in more mula. It is an interesting business plan, reverse psychology or whatnot. We always want what we don’t have. The usual.

In unorthodox fashion, The Avengers was able to achieve what not many Action hero film was able to achieve: candid honesty, individual character and team development, and most important of all, KICK-ASS action sequences. A-


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What could’ve been Jason Statham’s pivotal role into the genre of semi-drama turned out to deflate before our eyes with the routine gun-fights and vengeful one-liners. The premise had the same old dirty stain of unoriginal that most action films these days are plagued with. Director Boaz Yakin whose previous films like Remember the Titans and Uptown Girls had a mix of great acting and heart-felt plots, fail to bring Safe to life. 

imdb: Mei, a young girl whose memory holds a priceless numerical code, finds herself by the Triads, the Russian mob, and corrupt NTC cops. Coming to her aid is an ex-cage fighter whose life was destroyed by the gangsters on Mei's trail.

The only thing that makes Safe different from the reminiscent 'The Professional' is because Mei has a photographic memory. Judging from Yakin's previous films, it seems like he knows how to navigate the drama within the story. But even though he chose actors who could only provide a limited amount of emotions, the story left a lot of room for him to go wild. Usually with action films, it's common that either action or story get the short end of the stick and with Safe, both ends were shamefully lacking. Statham and friends have the usual lead bath from scene to scene without much interesting action tricks to show. If only American action films just put in that extra punch of effort to make truly inventive action films like say, The Raid: Redemption? How long can a battle last with just bullets flying from all direction? Quite a while it seems. The connection between Statham and Mei was not plausible. Statham is known to be a man of action who has a seemingly endless amount of mystery surrounding him. And that's probably why we're not sick of him like we are with Tom Cruise or Bruce Willis (who btw, both have more than 3 films coming out this year, talk to me at the end of the year if you think otherwise). And so, to have Staham play a man who cares so deeply about this girl that he's willing to be showered in bullets, well come on. There were some genuine emotions seeping through but not enough to make us believe. C+


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