Fred Said

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2013 SAG Nominees for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Posted by Fred on January 27, 2013 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

January 27, 2013

These are the nominees  for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture as cited by the Screen Actors Guild of America for the year 2012, to be awarded January 27, 2013.  This will be shown live January 28, 2013, 9 am Manila time.

Here are my reviews for these five nominees.  This Cast award is its equivalent of the Best Picture prize.  Frankly anyone of these films can win it.  


In this cast, only Alan Arkin was nominated for an individual award, Best Supporting Actor.  Ben Affleck did not receive a Best Actor nomination and rightly so, in my opinion, as he was as bland as ever.  Really, only Alan Arkin and his partner, John Goodman, made any kind of an impression acting-wise.  The unknown actors playing the hostages were not impressive as well.  

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel :

This film boasts of an impressive cast of senior British actors led by Judy Dench, Bill NIghy and Tom Wilkinson. Only Maggie Smith though earned an individual nomination, and rightly so, as she is really memorable here. But to be honest, we have all seen Dame Maggie act this way, but it was really hilarious. This was really an ensemble effort more than individual. I would not argue if this won.

Les Misérables :

This musical film has a big ensemble cast who had to sing live as well as act perfectly with each scene being shot.  That alone should merit it this big prize.  Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway also earn individual nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively, which for me they should both also win.  I am rooting for this ensemble to win this prize.  That is if only Russell Crowe's performance was not so widely panned (unjustly though, in my opinion).

Lincoln :

Its main acting conceit lies only in one central performance, that of Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. Despite this, veterans Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field also receive individual nominations for their supporting performances.   Joseph Gordon-Levitt also shone in a smaller role as Lincoln's eldest son. However, the rest of the cast was largely unknown, undistinguishable and generic.

Silver Linings Playbook :

This contemporary film has a relatively smaller cast of four main actors.  All four of them got Oscar nominations, a rare feat.  However, for the SAGs, only Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro get nods, not Jacki Weaver. I certainly won't be disappointed if this ensemble cast won as they all did their respective roles very well, especially the two lead stars whose chemistry really made this movie work.


Posted by Fred on November 22, 2012 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

December 29, 2010

Being a fan of Pinoy horror films, particularly those starring Ms. Kris Aquino (like "Feng Shui" and "Sukob"), of course I was not about to miss "Dalaw." It was just strange how this was the only film which did not receive any nomination from the Metro Manila Film Fest 2010 judges. That did not weaken my resolve to watch this film.


"Dalaw" is the story of Stella (Kris Aquino), a widow of four years whose violent husband died in a car accident while they were quarreling. She is now set to marry her high school sweetheart Anton (Diether Ocampo) with whom she has recently reconnected. From then however, Stella's life becomes a living hell when a mud-coated ghost haunts her dreams. After their wedding, the torment escalates as actual deaths began to occur among the people around her. Stella, with the help of a spooky neighbor with a "third eye" Aling Olga (Ms. Gina Pareno), needs to discover how to stop the malevolent terror from destroying her life.


Kris Aquino just had her signature pained look plastered throughout the whole movie. She has not really progressed in her facial expressions through all these horror films she had. The way she shouts her son's name Paolo and her anguished harsh screams were so over-the-top. A very big problem of the film was that Kris and Diether had absolutely NO chemistry. Their whole relationship as high school sweethearts was not believable at all. Their kissing scenes were very awkward-looking. This made the central premise of the story very shaky indeed. Come to think of it, Kris looked ill at ease with all the other actors as well. But hey, Kris is fun to watch, so there! Haha!


A lot of the scary scenes were derivative. Some of the death scenes have already been done in previous films of the same genre, like the one in the sauna. The supporting character of Gina Pareno was written and executed in a comic horror style. Her Aling Olga looked like Mrs. Ganush of "Drag Me To Hell." She likes quoting classic lines from Filipino movies when she makes her ominous pronouncements, which can be funny, but some of the humor is forced. Her exit was also very poorly written and realized. Among the other supporting actors, only Karylle made any kind of impact.


The movie was shot in very poor light. It seemed like most of the movie happened during the twilight to evening hours, which made a lot of scenes very hard to see. It was very strange that no one seemed to need to turn on the house lights at night! The director Dondon Santos depended heavily on typical horror effects like sudden camera shifts, dreary funereal music and too much darkness to achieve his scares. The final resolution had a corny feel to it because Kris was obviously fighting a solid "ghost". Overall this movie was a disappointment in the list of Kris Aquino horror films.

RPG Metanoia

Posted by Fred on November 22, 2012 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

December 2, 2010

My boys and I watched "RPG Metanoia" today, which is an entry in the current Metro Manila Film Festival. I found it the best way to introduce the watching of Filipino films to them. This is the first Filipino film they have watched in the movie house. They generally enjoyed it for the most part (save for a few fuzzy details), and I was happy for that. I definitely enjoyed it myself.


The story of "RPG Metanoia" is very current and relevant. It tells about Nico and his friends who are computer-game addicts to an RPG called Metanoia. When an evil force that was destroying the world of Metanoia also threatens the real world, they need to forget their personal differences and band together in order to beat the common foe.


I liked the very real Filipino characters. I liked how the relationship of Nico (voiced by Santino himself, Zaijan Jaranilla) and his parents (funny to imagine Aga Muhlach and Eugene Domingo voicing them) was portrayed. The gang of Nico was also very realistically scripted, like how I remember playing with my neighbors back then, with the misunderstandings and getting back together as playmates. I liked how they had a Chinoy (Filipino-Chinese) guy in Nico's gang. I liked how they had a girl character May teach Nico and friends about outdoor activities, as well as play an important role in the RPG conflict also.


I liked the characteristically Filipino imagery like Vigan houses used in the virtual world, the Moriones mask as the evil guy's avatar, the Filipino street games like Patintero, Tumbang Preso and Shato, etc. I liked the underlying message of warning to kids about addiction to computer games. (My 7-year old got that lesson!) The Filipino musical score by Ria Osorio and Gerald Salonga is also outstanding.


I also liked the international scope of the story, as we see the involvement of several foreign Metanoia characters in the virtual battles. There appear to be plans to distribute this to foreign countries, as the subtitles for the Korean and Japanese dialog were in English, instead of Filipino (even my 7-year old did find it odd though). I think we can be proud to have this film represent our country in festivals abroad.


OK, first of all, there is no point comparing this film to a Pixar, or even to a Dreamworks film. After all, this only the first full-length 3D computer animated film from the Philippines, so we have to cut it slack for its pioneering efforts. The animation quality is certainly more than passable. While the quality of the color palette, design neatness and the 3D can still be improved further, this is the best of local animation I have seen. This is an action film that requires a high level of sophistication in order to pass muster in terms of excitement level, and "RPG Metanoia" does so with flying colors. Kudos to Star Cinema for taking up this challenge, even if it did take five long years to make this one.


The Fighter

Posted by Fred on November 22, 2012 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (0)

December 18, 2010


In the midst of my work and Christmas shopping, I felt the need to catch this multi-nominated film. I am so glad I did because it is outstanding. Ok, the typical ingredients of a boxing flick are here. A down-and-out underdog protagonist, the training scenes, the boxing ring scenes, the redemption towards the end. But the remarkable thing about this particular film is the fantastic acting, which can already be seen in the awards nominations already announced.


The ironic thing here is that the supporting actors have more acting challenges than the main character. It is good that Mark Wahlberg (as Micky Ward) was finally nominated for his acting, but his co-stars really stole the thunder from under him. He was basically underplaying his quiet character. Unfortunately, I also felt Wahlberg was miscast, being too old to be playing a young boxer on the rise. He was very realistic during the actual boxing scenes, as though he was a real boxer. (Wahlberg's training sessions with his idol Manny Pacquiao was very evident!)


Christian Bale had the showiest role as Micky's self-destructive half-brother and trainer Dicky Eklund. He was as far from his Bruce Wayne persona as can be. He was gaunt, slovenly and garrulous. He is uncompfrtably scary whenever he is onscreen. Melissa Leo, wow, shines in another very showy role! She is amazingly realistic as the domineering mother of these two boxers. Her Alice was a most self-possessed, quarrelsome and hateful character as they come.


Amy Adams also plays against her usual type as sassy Charlene, Micky's girlfriend who gives him back his confidence and a way out of his losing predicament. Even the more minor supporting characters were well-played: Jack Mc Gee as George Ward, Mickey O Keefe as himself, and even the seven annoying women who played the big-haired white-trashy sisters of Micky.


This film is fast-paced and interesting to watch. Director David O. Russell does a very good job in helming this project. I am glad it is getting the awards consideration it is currently earning. Very sure that the three supporting actors will make it all the way to the Oscar nomination listing.


Posted by Fred on November 22, 2012 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (0)

December 4, 2010


I was not really planning to watch "Skyline". One day though, I overheard a reviewer on the radio describing it is an alien invasion film with a nice twist at the ending. I am a sucker for a good twist so I watch, without reading anything about it first.


"Skyline" actually begins quite well, with some blue lights falling on the city. Staring into the blue light apparently mesmerizes people who eventually get sucked into it. However, as the octopus-shaped alien with the long tentacles made its appearance, and later a different alien monster with two legs terrorized the streets, this movie turned into a typical chase and kill off the victims one by one type of film.


The alien seemed indestructible from anything the humans throw at them, from bullets to entire aircraft! However in a moment of cinematic illogicality, in the climactic fight towards the end, our hero Jarrod (Eric Balfour) dares to try killing one by hitting it with a hollow block and punching it with his bare fists! And for some strange reason, the aliens took their sweet time when it came to our heroine Elaine (Scottie Thompson), unlike the swift way they killed their other human victims.


This is a movie with less than 90 minutes of running time, yet it really felt so long. The whole thing was repetitive, irrational, and maddening. The characters were all annoying, and the generally unknown actors who portrayed them were so hammy in their acting. Now as for that supposed nice "twist" at the end, as the scene shifts to the insides of the alien monster. I don't know. It was not much of a twist for me at all. It was predicable, as it was corny and unreasonable. Watch at your own risk. This type of film can actually be fun for some people.

The Next Three Days

Posted by Fred on November 22, 2012 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

November 30, 2010


In "The Next Three Days," the ideal life of a college professor (Russell Crowe) and his wife (Elizabeth Banks) and their young son is suddenly disrupted by the wife's arrest and incarceration for murdering her boss. Out of desperation to keep his family together, Crowe thinks up and executes a most elaborate scheme to spring his wife from jail and escape out of the country.


Written and directed by the award-winning writer Paul Haggis ("Million Dollar Baby" and "Crash"), this movie is a slow boil. The first half is very quiet. We do not really know what the wife did or not do right away. One scene she is arrested, then she is already in jail. The audience is kept thinking to piece things together as the scenes unfold, as details were not spoon-fed.


Then as Crowe initiates his plot, the movie is transformed into an exciting, suspensefully-edited series of events. The scenes shift from Crowe to the police on his trail in an effectively nail-biting fashion. All the while at this point, we still do not know whether the wife was guilty or not. All we have is Crowe's faith in her innocence. The audience is kept in a moral dilemma. Will Crowe succeed to give his wife her freedom? Should we really root for them to escape?


But ultimately the thing that brings this movie down for me is its preposterousness. Here we have Crowe who is a just mild-mannered professor in the beginning, not some special ops guy (like Liam Neeson in "Taken"). And mind you, this is supposed to be a prison in Pittsburgh, a major city of the United States, not one from any random Third World country. Can ordinary people like him, like us, really resort to these extreme measures outside the law in order to free someone you love from prison?


OK, it is just a movie, but in family dramas like this, I believe some measure of believability and grounding in reality is necessary to make the audience care for the characters.

Let Me In

Posted by Fred on November 22, 2012 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (1)

Novemer 23, 2010


Something good that came out of that terrible traffic jam that paralyzed Quezon City yesterday night was that it gave me the opportunity to watch a movie that I had been itching to catch since it opened more than a week ago. This was "Let Me In," the American version of an acclaimed Swedish film entitled "Let the Right One In." This was directed by "Cloverfield" director, Matt Reeves.


The story is the same, of course. Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a lonely 12- year old boy, is constantly picked on by bullies in school. He strikes a friendship with his similarly lonely new neighbor, a strange 12-year old girl named Abby (Chloe Moretz), who does not wear shoes in the snow and loves puzzles. As their friendship develops, a series of unexplained bloody murders were taking place in the neighborhood. To tell you more will be spoiling the story for those who have not seen the original film.


As I have also seen the original Swedish version (you can read my full review of that one by clicking  HERE), I could not help but compare the two. All the salient points of the story are there. The suspenseful story-telling was still evident even if I already knew what was going to happen. The actors who played the two kids were very effective in essaying their parts in both movies. The main differences lie in the direction and treatment of the scenes and the characterization.


The setting is transported from Sweden to Los Alamos, New Mexico, as the characters all become Americans. The Swedish film was much colder and relentlessly bleak. The American version is predictably more noisy and garish in production value. While the Swedish film shows Oskar and Eli as friends, the American version pushes it further to budding romantic love between Owen and Abby. (This is not necessarily a bad thing, though). The American version uses some terrible CG effects to emphasize evil (you'll know what I mean when you see it), while things were simpler and suggestive (rather than blatant) in the Swedish version.


I think you can watch either film if you want to see this unconventional story unfold. You now have a choice of either subtle or direct styles of exposition. Or like me, you can watch and enjoy both, as they are both watchable (if you enjoy this genre of film) in their own ways.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Posted by Fred on November 22, 2012 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

November 18, 2010

The last book in the Harry Potter saga has been split into two parts. At first, maybe people would think it is to squeeze some more financial mileage out of the series. On the other hand, having watched this installment, there is simply too much complex storytelling involved in this book to cram it into only one two and half hour movie.


This Part 1 is already a very full two and half hours. The drama begins even before the opening credits roll. The special effects have reached a new high point with the trick of using polyjuice potion to create multiple Harry's. The frenetic escape of Harry in Hagrid's motor sidecar is an achievement in action editing. The trio's brave and ingenious penetration of the Ministry of Magic to get the locket horcrux is very exciting and tension-filled.


Momentum dips a bit in the midsection as our trio scour the English wilderness for a way to destroy the horcrux. This prolonged section, which some may find boring, dealt more with the personal relationships and loyalty of the three friends as they are left to their own devices to figure out how best to achieve their quest. While quiet recellections and conversations dominated this segment, it is also marked by the creepiness of Bathilda Bagshot, manaical bloodthrist of Bellatrix Lestrange and the touching nobility of Dobby, the ex-house-elf of the Malfoys. Watch out too for a most unexpected dance scene which will surely make you smile, if not actually chuckle!


In the third section, we learn what the "deathly hallows" are referred to in the title as our trio learns it from the visibly disturbed Xenophilius Lovegood, Luna's dad. But the main highlight here is a most amazing animated short featurette called "The Tale of Three Brothers" as narrated by Hermione. This Part 1 ends very well with a sky-splitting final cliffhanger scene featuring "The One Who Would Not Be Named".


Its been repeatedly mentioned how the main actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have all grown up in front of our eyes as this movie series unfolded over the past nine years. Rupert and Emma are both taller than Daniel already! Acting-wise, everyone had likewise improved very much. They all even show some skin here. Yes, even Hermione! The support from the esteemed gallery of British actors and actresses serve the film very well indeed. We saw everyone from all the previous films it seems, except for Maggie Smith.


The direction of David Yates is excellent as he did in the last two films. Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves got just the proper mix of action, drama and humor needed to make the saga work on screen. This may just be a set-up installment, however, it stands very strong on its own merits. As the last scene faded to black, the audience will definitely develop the resolve to watch out for the concluding part to be released next summer, and all be witnesses to the epic Battle of Hogwarts.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (My Review of the Book and the Film)

Posted by Fred on November 22, 2012 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

November 14, 2010

It took time for me to get into the story of this novel. The beginning section about an old man receiving dried flowers every year is very puzzling, and I had to read it over many times to try to get it. I decided to just let it go and read on, and then the story really gets more interesting.


I think this is the first novel from Sweden that I have read, and so the Swedish names and places used were new and charming. The style of exposition of Mr. Larsson is different and nonlinear, so it does take getting used to as you progress through the book.


At first, you might balk at prolonged descriptions of people, places, businesses and technologie. Sex is also treated very casually here, as Swedes are traditionally known for. But beleive me, once you catch the drift of Larsson's style, it would be difficult to let go up to the very end.


The title refers to the mysterious Lisbeth Salander, a misanthropic young orphan with an unusual talent and tenacity in investigative work. However, the actual lead character of the story is journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who was hired to ghost write the memoirs of the elderly industrialist Henrik Vanger. However, we will learn that Mr. Vanger also wanted Blomkvist to solve a family mystery that has possessed him for over twenty years. And it is with this investigation that our titular Lisbeth gets into the action.


Without going into much detail, the investigation will take an incredible turn into the violent, gruesome and lurid. I personally felt this part went way over the top, but hey, maybe that is why this book stood out and became a best seller. I admit I went absorbedly along this dark ride. I brought this book along to read throughout my vacation in New England. But I simply could not put the book down, so I finished it while still on the plane going there! I cannot wait to read the next adventures of Lisbeth Salander.




Usually I like to read the book first before watching the movie. In this case, reading the book first made watching the movie easier, but also made the experience a bit disappointing.


The title of this Swedish film is Män som hatar kvinnor which translates as Men Who Hate Women. I liked the way the screenplay adapted the book onto the big screen. This movie ran for over two hours, so that most of the important events in the novel are all accounted for. There were some details which were altered for cinematic purposes, but that was also OK, since it fits right into the story without altering major plot points.


In the book, more pages were spent on journalist Mikael Blomkvist. The movie, on the other hand, gives practically equal, or even more, time to Lisbeth Salander, the Goth female computer hacker with a disturbed past, facial piercings and the dragon tattoo, who helps Blomkvist solve a mystery of the rich Vanger family, unsolved for more than 20 years already. Actress Noomi Rapace portrays the titular character Lisbeth bravely and with conviction.


I say I was also disappointed in a way that having read the book cannot make me a fair judge whether the movie was able to effectively build up the suspense into the revelation of what really happened. The movie is certainly not exactly how I imagined some things. For instance, I did not imagine Lisbeth's dragon tattoo to be so big! But as a whole, this film is a very faithful retelling of the book's events, no surprises anymore.


The US is coming up with an American version of this movie by next year, and no doubt I will be watching it again. Daniel Craig (as Blomkvist), Stellan Skarsgard (as Martin Vanger) and Christopher Plummer (as Henrik Vanger) all seem to fit their roles. I am just not so sure how pretty Rooney Mara (from Social Network) can pull off playing Lisbeth.


As for "The Girl Who Played With Fire", I am thinking maybe I should watch the second movie first before reading the second book, and see how that goes.


Posted by Fred on November 22, 2012 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

November 7, 2010


The posters and previews did not really attract me to watch this movie. However my sons made me see it with them, so I did. I am skittish about Dreamworks animated projects. I was just hoping that it would be a pleasant surprise, like "How to Train Your Dragon" or "Kung Fu Panda" were before this. We did not watch it in 3D.


It all starts with a Superman scenario when two alien babies were sent via rockets to Earth, when their planets were destroyed. One was raised in the lap of luxury and grew up to be the superhero, Metro Man. The other was raised in a prison, ostracized all his life for his big head and blue color, and grew up to be the super-villain, Megamind. As fate would have it, they became arch-nemeses. One day, one of Megamind's hare-brained schemes to destroy Metro Man actually succeeds. However, after he experiences his "success," he finds his life empty without someone to fight against.


Regarding the artwork, the characters (with no exception) were really very unattractive and unappealing, as they were drawn. I see this as a problem with all Dreamworks projects like "Dragon", "Monsters Vs. Aliens", and "Shark's Tale". The character Hal/Titan is the worst and most annoying of all (as he was intended to be). Their Metro City backdrops and special animated effects though were very well-done.


As for the celebrity voices, the best one belonged to Brad Pitt as Metro Man. It was noble yet cheesy, very on point. Will Ferrell sounded like he had a good time with Megamind, but it was just ok. Tina Fey's voice as the feisty reporter Roxanne did not really reflect her funny personality. These two could have been done just as good by any other voice talent.


Overall, this movie was satisfactory, not spectacular. As you can deduce from the short synopsis, this movie is not exactly for kids. There were stretches in the middle when my kids were restless. The success of the jokes were erratic. The script was surprisingly quite adult in its analysis of good and evil, even contemplative at times. I appreciated this and I liked the twists and turns that the story took. I am not sure though if the kids actually got what the movie was really all about behind the silly action sequences.