Drafted this days before Jose Mari Chan starts invading the airwaves again. Well, it’s the time of the year again. And I could already smell the cool breeze even when it’s 32 deg C outside, imagine people “giving gifts exchanging cards” and believe that “Christmas is truly in their hearts.” Which means, it’s almost-but-not-yet-really near the end of the year again and it’s time for the usual year-end lists. It’s also high time for me to catch up, which means, there won’t be enough time for me to get. High. Which. Kinda sucks. Anyway—ways. Here we go.
Most overrated movie: Black Panther. Not the first black superhero movie. Blade did that 20 years ago and it’s a movie where all the vampires are so white and the hero, a Daywalker, is a black guy (Imagine what woke people would make of that if Blade came out in 2018–I bet they’d wax poetic or gush about that as well). Rather, Black Panther is the first “woke” black superhero movie in the same way Wonder Woman was the first “woke” female superhero movie (At least Wonder Woman‘s surprisingly light and has that inspired sequence in No Man’s Land). Maybe, Blade and Will Smith (MIB, Enemy of the State, Hancock) weren’t black enough and Alice from Resident Evil and Adele Blanc-Sec weren’t female enough. Black Panther‘s a well made movie, nothing special, and definitely NOT a masterpiece. All the good things you read about it are just marketing bull. See, when I was a kid, Shaquille O’Neal was my superhero. No, not Steel but O’Neal winning gold medal in the Olympics. And I’m not even black. Not that I need to be.
Runner up: Game Night. Not really overrated. But saying this is the best Hollywood comedy in years raises the kind of expectation that leaves you disappointed afterwards. But Game Night is quite good. And I wasn’t disappointed, just didn’t find it to be the funniest of the year (that would be Deadpool 2 and no, it’s not even close). Think about The Game, but comedy. And it’s a very typical Hollywood comedy in that everything goes as expected (i.e., expected twists, expected laughs). The best part is when Jason Bateman got shot in the arm and his wife (Rachel McAdams) made an incision far too long to get the bullet out. Hilarious.
Revenge. It’s trashy and arty both. Initially thought it’s a tad too long for a movie with a simple rape revenge plot. But then, that’s probably because fighting for justice for rape victims is exactly that: it’s long, torturous, dehumanizing and with no end in sight.
Most important film: First Reformed. Taxi Driver meets Diary of a Country Priest and the most WTF ending of the year.
Citizen Jake. The film received a lot of praise and endorsement, especially from the Yellow crowd. Not surprisingly, because Mike de Leon’s huge fuckin’ cock of a comeback is blatantly anti-Marcos and anti-Duterte. What the Yellow elites don’t realize is that the film’s also about them.
Green Room. I don’t watch genre movies for insights about social and political issues in the same way that I don’t listen to punk rock to learn about politics. That the Nazi-punks are the bad guys and the members of the band who call themselves the Ain’t Right (which is very subtle for Liberals—sorry, Left) are the good guys is proof enough there won’t be much gray areas in this movie. Nor is it going to dig deep. Like punk rock, Green Room is all about the execution, the suspense, the sustained tension. And bottled righteous anger. It’s violent, gory—the sight of Anton Yeltsin’s arm sliced like an embutido is the most unsettling image I’ve seen all year—yes, beats anything in Revenge or Annihilation. And it perfectly approximates the “sense of danger” usually associated with hardcore. What’s even more dangerous is when hardcore crossovers to metal territory and vice versa. Underground punk concerts were known for riots. On the other hand, metal-heads are known for cookie monster vocals, devil worship and, among other things, murder. Add white supremacist skinheads to the mix and you got this mosh pit of a movie. Nazi punks fuck off!
Best superhero movie: Deadpool 2. Because Deadpool 2‘s Dawn (Death?) of X-Force is better than Avengers’ Infinity War.
Best old movie watched in 2018: Boxcar Bertha. What do you get when the legendary Roger Corman meets Martin Scorsese? Ans. A movie based on true story of a fictional character from a supposedly biographical novel. Is it good? Well, there’s sex and violence. Is it relevant? Any movie with the words “unionize”, “organize” in it should be relevant.
Runner ups: Patikim Ng Pinya. Campy sex farce featuring Rosanna Roces which you should definitely watch if you want to be transported back to the 90s; Scorpio Nights. A bold Marcos-era “bold” movie that’s all cramped space, grime, sex and sweat.
Best movie re-watched in 2018: Rules of Dating. A female student had an affair with a school teacher and got kicked out. In another school, a student teacher is caught in the same situation when gossips about her secret affair with her co-teacher reaches the school’s management. I’d say it’s the best romantic comedy I’ve seen though I haven’t seen much really. And I’m not even sure if it should be considered a romantic comedy. There’s romance, a bit of comedy and there’s gender politics, which is central to the story. Hollywood rom-com clearly this is not.
Runner-up: Original Sin. Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie star in the best Basic Instinct movie from the early aughts. As Jessica Zafra puts it: file this under it’s so bad, it’s good category.
Joe. Watched this just to check David Gordon Green’s other movies. Love his Pineapple Express and I like Your Highness just fine (it’s like a stoner take on Princess Bride). Of course, there’s Nic Cage, which is another reason. But this movie is so bleak and it’s not for everyone.
Hereditary. It’s more than three-fourths family drama sprinkled with a few scary bits and a totally bat shit scary finale. I was a bit disappointed that Toni Colette disappeared near the end. People who expect jumpscares every fifteen minutes won’t be disappointed. Not.
Mother! There are moments that are bat shit crazy and I love the Biblical and Catholic references in the movie. Also, I don’t know what’s more disturbing: the sight Jennifer Lawrence about to give birth amidst all the chaos, people eating corpse, or Michelle Pfieiffer and Ed Harris going at it in the middle of the day.
Annihilation. Not quite as good as Ex-Machina. But it’s got interesting ideas, some beautifullly arresting images and mildly disturbing ones as well.
Tag. Pro-feminist action-fantasy meets grindhouse gore in Sion Sono’s 2015 film. That shocking opening bus sequence for the win.