I watched six movies this month. Five out of six were romance films; the odd one out was Captain Marvel.
I didn’t write notes about these movies. I didn’t even think about them that much. I needed to rest my mind; I had enough shit to worry about this month.
When I watched Alone/Together I cried practically the entire time. I didn’t, no — I couldn’t think too much about the film. I don’t even remember anything about it; I just know that the tears started pouring the moment I saw CAL.
“You can throw television sets, diamond rings, or even your worst enemies into a black hole, and all the black hole will remember, is the total mass, and the state of rotation.” – Stephen Hawking, in a lecture
“I’m sure if Shakespeare were alive today, he’d be doing classic guitar solos on YouTube.” – Peter Capaldi, in a meta-diary
As a kid I used to have an irrational fear of black holes. I learned from the I Wonder Why series that one cannot escape a black hole — you either travel faster than the speed of light (highly impractical, according to a nerd called Albert) or you destroy yourself piece-by-piece as you get closer and closer to singularity. Fun stuff.
Black holes also distort our sense of time. Inside a black hole, time slows down and everything else speeds up. Time gets whacked, so to speak, which is also what happens when we spend hours and hours on the Internet engulfed in the cold celestial blob that is YouTube.
But I don’t fear YouTube and I don’t hate it either. I just don’t like myself when I get swallowed by those insipid artista videos like Boy Abunda’s Fast Talk or Darla’s bag raids. Bag raids, in particular, are unexplainably addictive. The attempt to humanize celebrities does nothing to mask the brazen displays of luxury — and still, I dive in.
The better part of YouTube has an even stronger pull. Two of my favorite channels, for example, are Lessons from the Screenplay and Every Frame a Painting. They use the video essay format to deconstruct movies with keen attention to cinematic form (i.e. screenplay, musical score, camera movement, etc). I think film analyses that focus on form are better expressed through video essays. By showing us clips from the movies being dissected, video essays are able to present the argument and the evidence at the same time.
Gerard Krawczyk’s Wasabi, to put it simply, is forgettable. It has its funny moments, but its use of tired slapstick cliches that exaggerate action sequences and make fun of dim characters can be both tiring and annoying—-usually both and at the same time.
The plot kicks off when police officer Hubert Florentini learns that his Japanese ex-girlfriend is dead and that they have a teenage daughter together. This discovery brings Florentini to Japan where he uncovers the mysterious death of his ex and tries to establish a relationship with his newfound daughter.
A little bit of historical context is needed to fully appreciate Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless. This has been my third viewing of the film and, thanks to the fact that it is also one of the most celebrated products of the French New Wave, I am now more equipped to see the film beyond the literal sense.
One thing that bothered me the first time I saw it was the brush-the-lip gesture Michel (Jean Paul Belmondo) kept doing all throughout the movie. Apparently it was a nod to Hollywood actor Humphrey Bogart who is vital to the development of the protagonist’s character. Michel, a man on the run for shooting a police officer, is trying to emulate the charisma and bad-assery of Bogart known for his roles in iconic movies such as Casablanca.
Humphrey Bogart | Screenshot
Without recognizing who Bogart is and the fact that he’s American while Michel is obviously French, one could get easily lost in the cultural significance of Breathless. It was made following a pact between France and the US which opened the French market for American products including cultural creations such as movies. Breathless, then, becomes not only a demonstration of technical innovation in film-making but also an exploration of a nation’s identity during the early stages of American cultural imperialism.
Hellboy is one of the earlier inceptions of the modern comic book movie. It was released in 2004, a few years before Marvel kicked off their own cinematic universe, and was helmed by the brilliant Guillermo del Torro who made sure that this movie would go down as one of the most visually-gripping superhero movies since the turn of the century.
Or am I overrating it?
But no shit though, the movie reminded me a bit of Deadpool. Both characters are antiheroes, with Hellboy just a little bit more archetype-y because of his “saving the world” slant. Deadpool also has its breaking-the-fourth-wall shtick while Hellboy is more straightforward. The latter, however, has this sincere human struggle of trying to fit in and be accepted—something Deadpool never gave a damn about.
Case in point: Hellboy, a red demon spawn adopted by a professor who works for the FBI, shaves and files his two pointy horns. And upon suspecting that his ladylove Liz is dating the FBI agent who’s also his errand boy, he stalks them and squirms in queasy jealousy. “He took a picture of her!” he exclaims over and over again, as we all have similarly done upon learning that Crush is into Some Other Bitch.
The plot may have gone the stereotypical route of having the antihero lured into his evil ways then eventually choosing to be the good guy—but that isn’t an issue. The Superhero—antihero or not—is a character trope that offers too little a room for defiance (don’t all tropes do?). Some superhero movies have tried to pull the moral ambiguity clause, but their protagonists have still turned out to be flawed but inherently kind individuals who would do everything for the greater good.
What makes Hellboy stand the test of time, however, is its visuals. Except for the explosions that are obviously early 2000s CGI, the rest of the visual spectacle are sophisticated and are perfect for the dark comedy ambience of the movie. I was genuinely surprised that it was made before I even hit puberty.
And for the last point of this wonky attempt at critique: Hellboy looks so much like Gareth Bale! Right? Riiight?
For people like me who very rarely watch movies the year they were released, maybe now is the time to give Hellboy a chance. Superhero movies are the hippest, and Hellboy definitely counts as one of those oldies but goodies kindo’ movie.
Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove is strangely not about its eponymous character. The doctor was only in three major scenes in this movie that is ultimately a satirical take on the 50s nuclear war tension when the Cold War was at its iciest.