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Friday, February 24, 2017

Hidden Figures Movie Review: Genius Has A Woman's Face

If you have a daughter of school age, who's very good in the maths and sciences, I strongly, strongly, strongly suggest that you bring her to the theater this weekend and watch the movie Hidden Figures, with the hope that she gets inspired by what these real women achieved for space research.
Unfortunately, movies about African-Americans do not usually play well here in the Philippines, especially if the subject is serious, but this movie is such a feel good movie, I'm sure you and your daughter(s) will leave the theater with happy tears in your eyes and possibly an eye on the prize - whatever your daughter may want to achieve in her own life.

I'm a big fan of Taraji Henson since her star turn in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I would always see her as Brad Pitt's mother because of her terrific acting in that movie. Too bad the Oscar Best Actress race is so crowded this year that she was not even singled out for her crowd-pleasing performance here.
I'm sure every working actress in Hollywood has to wonder what they have to do just to get into the four other slots in an Oscar Best Actress race, especially if Meryl Streep has a movie out! Because Meryl again has been nominated for the 20th time!
Octavia Spencer does get a nomination for Oscar Best Supporting Actress and you will see why she deserves it. She nimbly balances diplomacy with firm determination to advance her agendas, to ensure that African-American women at NASA don't get blindsided.
The revelation in the movie for me though is Janelle Monae, who I know more as a singer! She looks like the young version of Alicia Keys and she should be so lucky to get this role since both Octavia and Taraji are an Oscar winner and Oscar nominees as well.
She holds her own though among the three characters and does her best to tell the story of her genius character.
Whenever I teach about women and education, I have to go back to Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie and her pioneering efforts in radiation - to show today's girls what women had to go through just to get an education.
Now I have another fodder in my cannon - and it's a good thing it's black women this time - just to show to my girl students - that genius does not have a race.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Arrival Movie Review: Aliens Helping Humans

Sci-fi movies have really changed these past few years. They have become deeply psychological, posing questions about humanity and why we are here and what do these aliens want from us?

Gravity, Ex Machina and The Martian were the last sci-fi movies which I enjoyed very much.

This year, it's the turn of one of my favorite directors, Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners, Incendies), as he presents his take on man and aliens in Arrival. I won't give too much of the story away since I would really urge everyone to watch it (not in the moviehouse anymore, since today is the last day).

There are moments of excitement (when man meets alien) and moment to ponder (man vs. aliens in a war?).

There was one question in the end, which Amy Adams' character poses to Jeremy Renner, "If you could see your life from beginning to end, what would you change?". Jeremy Renner's character said "I wish I expressed my feelings more."

That basically is one of the main points of the movie. Communication. How we communicate with each other - man to man, man to alien, mother to daughter, father to daughter - and many other permutations - can truly strengthen our relationships and veer us away from needless conflict.

The soundtrack is amazing and I learned later that Johann Johansson, the composer, is Icelandic! No wonder! The Icelanders (Bjork, Sigur Ros) have produced some of the most mesmerizing songs ever!

This movie should be seen though in a big screen, much like the movie Gravity. It's like Inception as well, because soon as you leave the moviehouse, I'm sure everyone in the group has an opinion on what they just saw. A perfect coffeehouse movie topic!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Isabelle Huppert for Oscar Best Actress 2017

The Oscars are going to be handed out Monday morning next week (Phil. time) and I won't be able to watch it live since I have work, but anyhow, there are some people that I hope would win that night.
I am especially excited for French actress, Isabelle Huppert, one of my favorite actresses. I remember dragging my brother and our friend Charina to some of her movies since the art cinemas in Hong Kong had a festival of all of her films - and I remember we went out of The Piano Teacher wondering what the hell was that all about!
If you were not into sadomasochism or sexual self-mutilation, you'd be like, nganga, watching the film. And she won the Cannes Best Actress award for it.
Elle, which got her this Oscar nomination, is a sexual drama as well, and the reviews on her work are amazing! I still have to see the movie but knowing what Isabelle is capable of, I'm sure this one is a showstopper!
Emma Stone was sweet and wonderful in La La Land, but she's only ten years old, compared to the monumental achievement in acting that Isabelle has shown throughout her career.
Elle is probably her only performance that could reach a wide American and worldwide audience, especially if she wins.
She should win.