This documentary is about the life and career of Manny Pacquiao, probably the most famous Filipino celebrity the world over now. While we in the Philippines idolize him as our “National Fist,” it would be very interesting to hear what other peoples have to say about him. The film was narrated by Liam Neeson. It starts with Manny Pacquiao contemplating on why he boxes. Pacquiao mostly narrates his story in Filipino (with English subtitles). We learn that he joined fishermen when he was a poor boy growing up in Sarangani province. He credited that experience for developing his physical strength. From there, we will meet various people who have influenced his life and career. Manny’s mother Dionisia was restrained and sincere when she talked about his childhood. Too bad that would only be her only part in the film. His wife Jinkee had more participation, talking about their personal life. There was an obvious hesitation in some parts when she was going to say something negative, but that was understandable. Too bad there was no interview with his kids. It would have been good to know how he was as a father.
The bulk of this documentary will of course be about his boxing career. We will meet his uncle Sardo Mejia who taught 12 year old Manny about boxing. His childhood friend Buboy Fernandez was trained by Manny to be his assistant trainer. We will get to learn more about Freddie Roach, his own career, how they met and their present relationship. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and innovative conditioning coach Alex Ariza are also featured prominently. Former managers Rod Nazario and Michael Koncz were not so favorably mentioned. We get to witness the best scenes from Pacquiao’s most memorable fights. There was that 1995 match with a certain Rossel, Manny’s first significant win that started him on his winning path. There was that match vs. Hussein in 2000, the first actual match Jinkee watched live, and she was six months pregnant then. His first match in the US, vs. Ledwaba, which Manny convincingly won despite being a longshot. There were highlights of his matches with Barrera, Morales, Solis, Diaz, Marquez, dela Joya, Hatton (that chilling knockout), Cotto, Margarito (that unprecedented eighth world title), and Bradley (that controversial loss by decision). There was of course mention of the dream match which may never be, that elusive one vs. Floyd Mayweather.
We will also see Manny’s forays into the entertainment scene. There were movies like “Wapak-Man” and “Anak ng Kumander”, which did not exactly get good reviews nor good box office. There was his singing “Imagine” on TV with Will Ferrell. We see inside footage of Manny recording “Sometimes When We Touch” in Capitol Records, with no less than Dan Hill himself coaching him (which I found so funny). There was also a quick montage of his multiple product endorsements locally and abroad, many of which we have not seen before. We will see his career in politics as congressman of the lone district of Sarangani. There were even predictions posed about a possible presidency. There was also footage from a prayer meeting where Manny was the motivational speaker. There were thoughts shared about how these other activities were affecting his boxing career.
I think “Manny” succeeds in its aim to craft a fair character study of a man who came from nothing, who pushed himself to achieve great things for himself and his whole country. This is a very well-made documentary feature, unexpectedly an emotional film which will move many to tears.
I went into this movie nervous about how I was going to review this movie, most people don’t know but I do have a degree in Cyber Security so my major worry was am I going to be able to catch all the hacking references they put in this movie. I shouldn’t have worried. This movie isn’t really a hacking movie, yes there are two hacks at the beginning of this movie you don’t see the code but some make believe this is how pathways work in the digital world that goes on too long that I was getting bored I can just imagine people that don’t really care that much about computing were thinking.
So we get the Chinese who just had one of their reactors hacked pair up with the U.S. due to the U.S. having the same type of hacking happen against them earlier but were able to stop it. So both governments decide to work together to try to figure out who is doing this and why. Oh but wait the Chinese Captain Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) decides they need his old M.I.T college roommate Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) who is supposed to be a master hacker but now resides in jail. Which okay it could happen since supposedly part of the code the blackhat ( in case people don’t know black hat is a term meaning a person hacking with malicious intent) is using was co written by Hathaway and Dawai back when they were in college. But the simple fact that afterwards there is very little hacking in this movie or that they really show you. It turns into a detective movie with them trying to track this black hat down, oh and Hathaway goes with them everywhere and sometimes without his mandated U.S. Marshall. There is no reason to have a hacker consultant following or taking point into crime scenes.
Then lets talk about the acting and editing of this movie. This movie is more of a B rated movie than the A rated movie that they try to spin it off as. The editing is bad in this movie from a lot of clip scenes to the pace of this movie is slow. And don’t get me wrong I could understand the slow pacing of this movie if it was more focused on the true aspects of hacking instead of trying to be a gunfight/police drama. Then they make the old Hollywood mistake of the guns never run out of ammo. You never once see or hear a gun empty, you never see the people have clips on them or changing them. Also Hathaway the hacker is not just a hacker but great at hand to hand as well as shooting. And then the dialogue in this movie, not talking about the hacker speak they got most of that correct at least the most I caught, even the coding though I am not a coder looked to be correct but the rest of the dialogue just seemed over the top or just thrown together. I don’t know if I should blame the writers or the way this movie was edited. Oh and then with everything else this movie has added they decided what they really needed was a love story, so when at least you will get some eye candy with Thor/Hathaway out of his clothes for some of this movie. But it is an element that didn’t need to be in this movie.
Spoiler here we get to see really two hacks in this movie and don’t get me wrong these two types of hacks are used a lot and have a lot of success. But the first hack we see is a phishing attack on an NSA Cyber Security person. Hathaway sends the man an email from his supervisor telling him he needs to change his password due to him having dealt with the U.S./Chinese team and the email has a short cut to change his password. Guess what he does? Yep. Clicks the link which happens to be hiding a keylogger in it which grants Hathaway access to the system the team needs to put some information together. Yes phishing is a successful way to get information from users but with all the things that have been happening in the world with unauthorized access and hacking attacks it is very unlikely that an NSA Cyber Security person is going to click on that link. The second attack that they use is a social engineering attack which is always very successful in the world. The use Dawai’s sister who is also Hathaways love interest in the movie to get a guard to attach a thumb drive into his computer which then grants them access to the systems. This I really do not have a problem with it is a good way to get your code into a system and happens a lot.
The Gambler tells the story of Jim Bennett, a college professor with a dangerous and self destructive addiction to gambling at underground casinos in the underbelly of Los Angeles. His addiction soon begins to effect his professional and personal life to severe and deadly consequences. The Gambler features great performances from Mark Wahlberg and Jessica Lange along with flashy and stylish direction from Rupert Wyatt. Much like the 1974 original, The Gambler is very much so a character study. We see Wahlberg’s Jim Bennett in every scene, and see him make every bet, lose every hand and blow every dollar without shying away from Wahlberg. Sadly, what made the original so cool, is what makes this remake so stale. I’ll explain.
The plot to this movie, overall, was sloppy and honestly pretty stupid. The movie centered itself around this one college professor who is also a gambling addict. He’s suicidal, he’s an asshole, and he is being loaned money from not one, but multiple loan sharks, which he then uses to gamble to try to pay it back, and ends up losing it. This is EASILY the more protagonist that I have ever seen in ANY movie. He screwed himself into a situation, keeps screwing himself further into the situation, and keeps going to try and eventually screw himself out of the conversation. Which is ridiculous. This guy went based on pure luck rather than planning out his strategy to gamble. Now normally, when people gamble, they tend to put a little money in, withhold most of what they have, and pile it on top of that, taking out money as they go along. 9 times out of 10 in this movie, the protagonist went in with a pile of money, turned it into the least amount of chips as possible, and then bets it all at one time. Now, he would get lucky and win, then his money would double. Now, rather than pulling 10,000 of his now 20,000 out, he bets it all again. He would do this, get up to about 80,000, continues to just bet it all, immediately gets screwed over and loses.
Now if that is not bad enough, he is spending this entire movie trying to pay back his loan sharks. He gets ALL of the money to pay back, and then go into a casino, and gambles for hours until he loses every cent of it. I mean what the hell? Who in the right mind seriously does that? I couldn’t like this protagonist because he was just a freaking idiot. The only time I did like was either when he was getting hit in the face, or when he was teaching. Now, the creators of this movie obviously tried, and it shows. It just didn’t work. They tried time and time again to throw in some form of tension. “OH! We will kill you if you don’t get us our money!” Or “OH! Is he going to win this bet?” But honestly, I was never feeling any of this so called “tension” when I don’t care what happens to the main character. I didn’t care if the loan sharks broke every bone in his body. I didn’t care if they killed his new girlfriend, which, is one of his students.
The only part of this movie that I can give credit to is the last loan shark that the protagonist goes to see in this movie. By the way! Another dumb idea. I can only picture the protagonist thinking to himself “Oh man! I am getting screwed by the mob! Let me go see ANOTHER mob boss to get me out of this situation!” Anyways, the last loan shark is no doubt the best, the funniest, and my favorite character in this movie. And I can give a little bit of credit because I can tell that they at least tried to make a good movie. It just didn’t happen. “The Gambler” in general, despite how much they tried, was not a good movie. It is something that I can see people enjoying, but honestly? It’s not worth seeing at all. I can’t recommend this movie to anyone. Don’t bother spending money on this movie.
The Road To Hong Kong has Bob and Bing as ‘Chester Babcock’ and ‘Harry Turner’, con men trying to sell a flying device. During a demonstration, Chester loses his memory. Harry takes him first to an Indian doctor ( an uncredited Peter Sellers reprising his ‘Milionairess’ role in all but name ) and then to a Tibetan monastery. Chester is cured but then accidentally memorises a formula for space navigation, and agents of a mysterious organisation known as ‘The Third Echelon’ are after both of them. Luckily, one such agent is ‘Diane’ ( Joan Collins )…
When I first saw this on television many moons ago, I assumed that Hope and Crosby were spoofing ‘James Bond’. The S.P.E.C.T.R.E.-like ‘The Third Echelon’ hides out in an underground lair ( beneath sea level ) accessible through a secret entrance, employs agents in black, roll-neck jumpers ( worn by at least every spy at some point in the ’60’s ) and is led by a ‘Blofeld’-like megalomaniac ( Robert Morley ). Their plan for world domination involves space rockets ( also the premise of ‘Dr.No’, the first Bond movie ). I was surprised to learn that ‘Hong Kong’ actually came out before 007’s debut, meaning that Norman Panama and Melvin Frank beat all those spy spoofs to the punch by a few years. The titles were designed by Maurice Binder, by the way!
Dorothy Lamour is unfairly relegated to a small role ( she’s on screen for no more than five minutes ) while the main female role is given to Joan Collins, despite her having virtually no flair for comedy. Still it was good to see ‘Dottie’ again with the boys. The gags come thick and fast. One is ‘borrowed’ from Chaplin’s ‘Modern Times’ – Bob and Bing are flying around in a space capsule and a machine feeds them bananas and milk ( the ship was originally intended to house monkeys ). The Hong Kong setting allows for racial stereotyping which probably would not be allowed now, but the most interesting scene is Chester and Harry’s encounter with Sellers. It is the old guard of comedy handing over the baton to the new. Allegedly they tried to delete it as they felt the ex-Goon to be upstaging them.
Loads of British faces on view – Dave King ( as a Chinese restaurant owner ), Roger Delgado ( later to play ‘The Master’ in ‘Dr.Who’ ), Walter Gotell ( ‘General Gogol’ of the Bond movies ), Felix Aylmer, and a fleeting appearance from David Niven! The ending has our heroes stranded on an alien planet, where they bump into Rat Packers Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin! Not one of the best ‘Road’ films by a long chalk, but Bob and Bing are always watchable. Too old? Well, they were in their sixties, but it would only have been a problem if they had been playing young men. They weren’t. In 1977, Bob and Bing planned to make ‘The Road To The Fountain Of Youth’ but the latter’s death made the project impossible. For better or worse, ‘Hong Kong’ was the end of the pair’s long journey.
Oliver Stone has always had a special bond with Vietnam. He is a veteran of that war and the theme about a veteran trying to cope with his war experiences is a subject that comes back in several of his movies. In Heaven & Earth he tells the true story of a Vietnamese village girl who survives a life of suffering and hardship during and after the Vietnam war. Before she meets and marries the U.S. marine Steve Butler, she already has had an entire life behind her. She once fled for the violence of the Viet Cong, leaving her farming village for Saigon together with her mother. But soon she disgraced herself by becoming pregnant with her new master’s child and as an unmarried mother, she tried to make a living by being a freedom fighter, a hustler and sometimes a prostitute. As soon as they are married, they move to the USA, but life on the other side of the ocean certainly isn’t as perfect as she imagined it to be…
Some people say that it is a good thing that Oliver Stone has finally made a movie that shows the Vietnamese perspective of the war and I agree, but only to a certain extend. It’s true that we only get to see movies that show the American side of the story and that we need other movies that give us a broader view on the matter, but “Heaven & Earth” isn’t the only ‘reversed’ Vietnam film. Perhaps not many people know this, but the French movie “Indochine” (1992) does approximately the same. The main difference with “Heaven & Earth” is that it doesn’t talk about the ‘American’ period, but about the French colonial period that proceeded it and in which time the Vietnam war really started (The French had almost lost all their battles when the Americans came to help them and thereby got completely stuck into the war themselves…).
But it is true, Oliver Stone has done a nice job with this movie. He has made it an interesting character study, with the war always present in the background. The acting is very good and I don’t think there could have been a better actor than Tommy Lee Jones to play the role of Major Steve Butler. The other actors all did a good job too, in fact, I might say that Stone has had an excellent cast to work with and he probably got the most and the best out of them.
If there is one lesser point to this movie, although only a small one, than it must be the language. The Vietnamese all start by speaking almost perfect English to each other, but when they speak to Americans their English is poor, yet when they speak to each other in front of an American its in Vietnamese. I believe it would have been better if Stone had chosen to let the Vietnamese speak their own language all the time and to speak with an accent when speaking to the Americans. But as I already said, I only see this as a minor detail and it certainly didn’t spoil the good times that I had with this movie. This is an underrated movie that deserves to be seen by a great audience.
America, land of the free, and home of the… you get the picture, and that picture won’t be blowing up in your face. Pun intended? With all the crazy shit that has been going on in the media from Isis, to the political war on race here in America, it’s no surprise that North Korea is on that list. Recently, a hacker group called “Guardians of Peace”, or should I say Guardians of Petty Bullshit, demanded Sony not release the political comedy “The Interview”. With a little time, effort and I’m sure manipulation, the film was back on schedule to hit the silver screen, but only to a limited amount of theaters. Apparently tickets sold faster than a grapefruit in Pyongyang.
Skylark Tonight, an entertainment talk show that features topics from Miley Cyrus’ vagina, to McCanaughey fucking a goat, manage to land an interview with the powerful Kim Jong-un, played by Randall Park (Sex Tap, and television show Fresh off the Boat). Regardless if their fellow competitors are hatin’ on them, talk show host David Skylark, played by James Franco (Spring Breakers and Pineapple Express), and his right hand man Aaron Rapaport, played by Seth Rogan (Neighbors and Knocked-Up) are ready to meet the world’s most feared man. But before they can break ratings, the CIA hires Skylark and Rapaport to “take out” the leader of North Korea. In advance, the two are prepped for the attempt, but even with a simple task literally at hand, the diva Skylark rather put fashion before proper assassination.
Upon arrival, they’re presented with an obviously staged country, but with the assassination already fallen flat it takes some global tracking, and sodomy to put their mission back in order. Just when their nerves are about to settle, a simple knock on the door puts them back on edge; things are about to get really interesting. Part of their training is to repel the evil leader’s well known reputation for brain washing, but Skylark is unable resist his charm. America’s representation of North Korea’s great leader, is a teenage boy with a giant toy box, and a complex about living up to his father’s standards, but I got to say Hollywood made Kim Jong-un look like a baller. Question is, will Skylark wake up and smell the soju in time to save the world, or will his wing man have to pull his head out of his ass for him.
With so much hype in the media recently, I personally believe The Interview lives up to that expectation. It’s the comedic modern day version of Inglorious Bastards. Being that this is director, Evan Goldberg’s second film, well done sir. He, along with his kickass cast and crew created something that everyone, no matter what country you’re from should enjoy; being insulted by Hollywood is privilege. So please kick back, pull up your Youtube, or Xbox Live account, or simply hit up the nearest theater brave enough to show it. Until then, happy holidays to you all, and may there be peace world wide to the people, the puppies, and yes even North Korea, one day.
“Kung Fu Panda Holiday” was released back in 2010 as the second short film to the Panda franchise between the first and second feature film. It’s very similar to the original movie, so if you liked that one, chance is good you’ll enjoy this one too. The main characters are mostly included and the action is similar too in the grand picture. Here and there some fighting, occasionally some wisdom from Dustin Hoffman and of course quality animation from start to finish.
Story-wise I was not really impressed though. The Christmas reference was basically limited to Panda asking himself whether to spend Christmas night with his fellow Kung Fu masters as he’s obliged to or with his dear ones. The problem wasn’t really that the outcome couldn’t be more obvious (that’s usually the case with holiday short films), but that the Christmas message got a bit lost in the action sequences and goofy fun parts. Although the ending was executed very nicely, it couldn’t really make up for everything before. Maybe they should have limited it to 15 minutes max. It’s an okay watch for the holidays and a fine way to reduce the waiting time till the third Kung Fu panda movie in 2015, but that’s pretty much it.
Although, not as great as the original’s plot, the plot in this holiday special wasn’t that bad. The computer animation was beautiful with the same lovely visuals. The characters are once again likable and the voice acting was as perfect as the original’s. Even the music from Hans Zimmer and John Powell (accompanied by Henry Jackman) was pretty good. Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special would always be recommended to fans of the franchise as one of Dreamworks’ wonderful holiday specials. Another perk was the rabbit chef who kept trying to fight Po to the death in order to reclaim his honor. I can’t help but feel that without that rabbit the story would have sagged a bit. It’s a truly beautiful short about how Po needs to choose between spending the Winter holiday with his Dad, and whether or not to fulfill his duties as the Dragon Warrior. Really touching. It may not be perfect, but it is nonetheless spectacular.
Director Hideo Nakata is best well known for Ringu, a chilling tale of a mysterious video which kills anyone who watches it, was in many ways the catalyst for Hollywood remaking Japanese horror. Ringu was remade as The Ring, with Naomi Watts, quickly followed by Ju-on, remade as The Grudge starring Buffy. In both cases the Hollywood remake is not a patch on the original. And this is what Chatroom feels like, a cheap and rushed Hollywood remake. However this time there is no precursor.
Let’s start with the good stuff though. At the heart of Chatroom there is an interesting and potentially compelling premise. The internet is the one place which offers true anonymity and Nakata portrays this via an innovative physical visualisation of the online world, focusing on the chatroom arena. You watch the characters make their way down long corridors filled with stereotypical internet users deep in conversation with each other. You see couples getting busy who clearly don’t match the physical description they are giving each other, alongside the more sinister picture of grown adults talking with young children.
Along the corridors there are a number of different doors, each the gateway into a different chatroom. Once inside Nakata films the interactions as physical encounters, with each character sat on a chair facing the others, in something akin to a group counseling session. The occasional flashbacks to the users sat at their computers keeps us grounded in the real world and works well in demonstrating how some characters, but not all, portray themselves in a very different light online. However this interesting premise is let down by a poorly constructed script and distinct lack of character development. The dialogue between the group at their first encounter feels incredibly forced and the ease with which William (Aaron Johnson – post Kick Ass) leads the group into sharing their most intimate secrets is far too rushed. The secrets which each member chooses to share are clichéd at best and ill thought through and borderline offensive at worst.
In a film with effectively only five characters there should be enough scope within the script to bring each character to a satisfying conclusion. Unfortunately this is not the case here, with the film quickly focusing on the relationship between William and Jim (Matthew Beard) so leaving the other three characters floating in the wind. There is simply no effort made to resolve their sub plots and all three feel significantly short changed. I was left sorely disappointed by Chatroom. Through its clichéd characters and lack plot development you are left with what feels like a hollow shell of a film. You have to give it credit for attempting to deal with the dangers associated with the internet such as sexual predators and teen suicide, but it does so in such a clumsy and misjudged manner that whatever message it is trying to portray is simply lost. With a director with the pedigree of Nakata and a premise of real potential this should have been better. In fact it needs remake.
When making movies out of fiction, most of the time it doesn’t work, unless the original text is purely telegraphic in style. If it’s good prose, it’s not usually the larger actions that we see that make it good – it’s something more ethereal within the style itself that give it quality. William Gibson’s noir-influenced techno-satire would seem perfect for adaptation, but anyone who’s suffered through (or even enjoyed) JOHNNY MNEMONIC suddenly realizes that the characters’ tough-guy dialog sounds utterly preposterous when actually voiced by a human being.
In NEW ROSE HOTEL, director Abel Ferrara finds the emotional heart of a very spare Gibson short (one of the best things Gibson’s ever written, and blessedly short on actual dialog) and creates a recognizable near- future world and characters who seem as comfortable with this subtly accelerated reality as we of 2005 are with plasma-screen TVs and mobile phones. The structure of the film can be extremely off-putting to those without enormous patience – it’s very slow-paced, and halfway through we see the almost the entire story over again, but very slightly changed. As far as I can tell, most of the scenes were shot twice from different angles. The entire point of Abel Ferrara’s approach is to visually represent the phrase, “If only I knew then what I know now”. NEW ROSE HOTEL really needs to be seen at least twice to be understood, and only lets go of the intelligence and daring of the direction and the performances after repeated viewings.
Christopher Walken plays Christopher Walken, under the guise of the character “Fox”, but I’ve rarely seen Walken so simultaneously comfortable and affected in any other role. Willem Dafoe has to play younger than he looks, and we get to watch his character learn what a fool he’s been, writhing with embarrassed disgust and fear as he discovers that the source of his predicament is his own stupidity and sentimentality. A very young-looking Asia Argento plays Sandii with more depth than she is regularly given credit for – her style is so subtle and genuine that she hardly seems to be acting, and as far as I’ve seen, she isn’t, but she’s so sexy and vulnerable that I’m more than willing to watch.
Even though we never see what happens to Dafoe’s character, one can assume what happens to him. He has nowhere to go but inside the coffin he’s created. The movie is a serious character study about not knowing what you could have and how greed and stupidity make a dangerous combination. I found this movie to be very deep and moving as well. But it’s not for everyone. It’s a shame this film is so under-appreciated; it’s definitely my favorite Ferrara film, and one of my top two Christopher Walken films. And lots of Asia in her underwear – what’s not to love?