Was It Worth Bringing Back Gilmore Girls?

November 29, 2016 at 9:00 PM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This post contains major spoilers of the Gilmore Girls revival, including the last four words. If you don’t want to know about the last four words or anything that happened in the revival, stop reading now.

When I first learned that Netflix would be rebooting Gilmore Girls, I was skeptical.  In fact, my initial reaction was that there’s no need to revive the series. Don’t get me wrong but I’m a big fan of Gilmore Girls. I watched the show until the very end. But for me, season 7 delivered the proper ending to the series. I was satisfied with it and did not wish for a continuation.

But as the build-up for the revival became bigger and the Netflix premiere loomed closer, I got caught in the fans’ excitement and decided to check it out after all. While some fans were eager to see more of the romance between Lorelai Gilmore and Luke Danes, I was more interested to see the rapport again between Lorelai and her daughter Rory. After all, the main premise of the show is about the relationship between these two characters.

I just love the mother-and-daughter tandem of Lorelai and Rory and their humor. Add to that are their witty and pop culture-ridden dialogues that make for so much fun and entertainment.

So last weekend, I binge-watched Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life to see if it would deliver and justify its revival. What I got from the revival was mostly a tribute to Edward Herrmann, the actor who played the patriarch Richard Gilmore in the show who died in 2014, and sheer nostalgia.

Three Generations of Gilmore: Where They Are Now

And it is indeed a beautiful and fitting tribute to the late actor because it is woven into the story seamlessly across the four episodes. Each of the three Gilmore women – Lorelai, Rory and Emily – deals with Richard’s death in their own way.

From left: Emily, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore

From left: Emily, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore (Photo credit: bustle.com)

The revival picks up nine years after season 7 ended. In the revival, it has been a few months since Richard Gilmore passed away. His widow, Emily, is devastated with her loss. She’s bereft with grief and sadness and coping with the loss by de-cluttering and redecorating her Hartford, Connecticut home.

We also see Lorelai still together and living with Luke. They may be together but they’re not married. Luke still has his diner where he now gives his WiFi password easily to customers. Lorelai still manages the Dragonfly Inn with Michel but without Sookie.

Rory, on the other hand, made a career of herself working as a freelance journalist. She had notable articles published on several noteworthy publications. She just left her Brooklyn apartment and is sort of living a vagabond life, staying from place to place. She goes back to Stars Hollow in Connecticut where her mother lives.

GIF Image from: gossipgrab.com

GIF image from: gossipgrab.com

The Other Side of Rory Gilmore

Career wise, Rory is in a rut. She struggles getting freelance assignments and is in the process of bagging a book deal and getting an article published for Condé Nast. Now this is where it doesn’t make sense to me. As a writer myself who previously worked at a couple of book publishing companies, I really find it hard to believe that Rory could not hold on to a decent, stable job as journalist. I mean, seriously?! She is smart, steadfast and level headed. Given her talent and caliber as a writer, she should have at least landed a full-time job at a publication. It may not be in The New York Times or Huffington Post, but at least somewhere prestigious and established. I would have thought that at 32, she should have been professionally successful and accomplished by now.

Heck, her high school frenemy Paris Geller is even more successful than her. In the revival, Paris is now managing her own fertility clinic. Her ex Doyle now writes for Hollywood filmmakers such as Michael Bay. If they’re successful, why can’t she be?

Photo credit: pastemagazine.com

Photo credit: pastemagazine.com

Relationship wise, Rory is also in a mess. She has a boyfriend named Paul but she is also secretly sleeping with her ex-boyfriend Logan Huntzberger. Logan, on the other hand, is engaged with a French woman named Odette. Rory and Logan have a no-strings-attached relationship. She frequently visits him in London where he lives.

I just don’t understand Rory in the revival. What has happened to her? Why is she with Logan when she knows full well he could never marry her? She is not the Rory I know in the old series.

Bonded Anew

Lorelai has her own struggles to deal with. She has a communication problem with Luke. Michel is threatening to leave Dragonfly Inn and Sookie is nowhere to be found. Her relationship with her mother Emily has always been strained and the death of Richard seems to have stirred old feelings from within from both of them. The therapy scenes between Lorelai and Emily are really interesting and amusing to watch. For me, the fourth episode titled “Fall” is the best of the bunch. It brings both Lorelai and Emily front and center as they deal with their strained relationship after Richard’s death. Lauren Graham’s acting is just superb in this episode. As Lorelai, her emotional scenes with Kelly Bishop are raw and heartbreaking.

GIF image from: thevine.com

GIF image from: thevine.com.au

The same goes for Kelly Bishop who just nails her character scene after scene. The series revival is a time for her character to shine and she does so in all four episodes, from “Winter, “Spring,” to “Summer” and “Fall.” In the end, Lorelai and Emily have come to terms with their relationship and their grief for the man they both loved – as a father and as a husband.

As for Rory, how she copes with her grandfather’s death seems to have been downplayed. Rory’s story arc is more focused on her career and her relationship with her three ex-boyfriends Logan, Jess and Dean.

Which brings me to the infamous and rather controversial last four words spoken between Rory and Lorelai.

The Last Four Words

Rory: “Mom?”

Lorelai: “Yeah?”

Rory: “I’m pregnant.”

Practically the entire Gilmore Girls fandom went wild with these last four words spoken at the very end of the “Fall” episode. While some fans who ship Rory with Logan are happy with these last four words as everyone assumes Logan is the father of the baby, others are pissed that Rory doesn’t end up with Jess or Dean. I have my own misgivings on these last four words myself.

gilmoregirls_thelast4words

Photo credit: fansided.com

First of all, I don’t ship Rory with anyone on the show so these words don’t really affect me in that way. However, I would have preferred that there were no last four words at all. Like I said before, I was satisfied with the way season 7 ended. Second, I really don’t like the idea of Rory getting pregnant while her career is still unstable and her personal relationships remain messy.

I would have preferred to see Rory making it big in her career. That was what’s been hinted at the end of season 7. She was full of promise. Rory’s pregnancy in the revival, however, means that she’s following her mother footsteps. Lorelai got pregnant with her at sixteen and she had a lot of hurdles to overcome before she made it through. This means that Rory would have to put her writing career on hold to make way for the baby. Not what I envisioned for her.

For me, Gilmore Girls has always been the type of show where most of the characters live in a peachy keen world and life is viewed in rose-colored glasses. The show has quirky characters in hilarious situations and while there are some drama thrown in, most of the time, it’s light and fluffy. However, the cliffhanger at the end of the revival changed the dynamic. A lot of questions now hang for fans to figure out.

Rory and Lorelai Gilmore

Photo credit: vox.com

The Verdict

So was Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life worth it at all? Did it bring closure to fans? The answer to that would be yes and no. For me, there were good parts and there were bad parts. I liked that Lorelai’s life has been good and she patched things up with her mother. I liked that the fast dialogue and pop culture references were still there. I liked that I was able to see the vulnerable side of Emily. But I felt like Rory got nowhere at this point. It’s truly disappointing to see her that way. She may be working on her own book but that’s not a guarantee that she’ll be successful. She still has to pitch that book to agents and publishers and who knows where she’s going to end up, especially now that she’s having a baby.

The way I see it, the revival is mainly fan service and closure for show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. All four episodes were jam-packed with beloved characters from the old series, including long-forgotten characters I barely remember. For fans of the show, it’s common knowledge that Sherman-Palladino left the old series before season 7 ended. So she wasn’t able to write the last four words she’s been meaning to write for the series finale. The Netflix revival gave her that opportunity.

paris-and-rory_gilmoregirls-revival

GIF image from: observer.com

Scene Stealers and Noteworthy Moments

  • Paris Geller being Paris Geller. She stole the scenes from Rory when they went to Chilton, their old high school;
  • Lorelai calling Emily on the phone and telling her about the best birthday she ever had with her father;
  • Emily Gilmore in jeans! At that point, Emily was a wreck because she’s still mourning the death of her husband;
  • Emily Gilmore with the women of DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) interviewing a potential member. It was refreshing to see Emily spouting a foul word for once;
  • The return of the Life and Death Brigade. Even though those scenes were unrealistic, I still enjoyed every minute of it;
  • Lorelai and Michel at the secret bar and how the customers scrambled to hide when Taylor walked by.

emily-gilmore_gg-ayitl

The Beefs

  • The Stars Hollow musical. It was awful and I had the same expression as Lorelai’s while I was watching it;
  • Rory taking over the Stars Hollow Gazette. She took out the poem for no reason then put it back again after getting pressured from the townsfolk. What was the point of all her work in that publication anyway?
  • Rory and her article piece about people waiting in lines. That was lame. No wonder Condé Nast rejected it;
  • Sookie appeared very briefly in the fourth episode and she’s not even present at Luke and Lorelai’s wedding;
  • There were unnecessary scenes and dialogues in the episodes (e.g. Rory and Lorelai at the pool, stretched performance of Lane’s band, Kirk’s short film, etc.). The episodes would do better if they were 60 minutes long instead of 90 minutes each.

Does Size Really Matter?

September 14, 2016 at 10:45 PM | Posted in Film Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This movie review contains major spoilers. Read at your own risk.

In these times where body shaming on social media has become more and more prevalent, one movie attempts to address the issue and among others with wry humor.

Zoom is a Canadian indie film about three characters who find themselves in a story written by the other. It’s generally a satire movie about body objectification and the creative process involved in writing books and making films. The movie stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Alison Pill, Jason Priestly, and Mariana Ximenes.

zoom-movie-poster

It tells the story of Emma, a young comic book artist who works at a factory that makes sex dolls. She sculpts and paints sex dolls while drawing comic book characters on the side. One day her co-worker/boyfriend Bob saw one of her drawings and points out that she could never be as voluptuous and big-breasted as the female superhero in her comics. Taking offense, Emma draws a new character named Edward in her comics – a guy possessing all the qualities of her ideal man. In her comics, Edward is a famous movie director – handsome, smart, charming and popular with the ladies.

This is where Zoom starts to get interesting. In Edward’s world, he is struggling to complete a new movie against the pressure of a major film studio. The movie script is incomplete and Edward wants to make it as an art house film. The problem is, the film studio wants a typical action-packed, Hollywood-style movie with lots of explosions – something that he really wants to avoid.

Edward’s movie is about a female model named Michelle who wants to become a writer. Her boyfriend Dale is not as supportive of her plans as she expected. So she leaves their shared apartment and goes to Brazil. It’s while she’s in Brazil where she starts writing her novel.

Eventually, Edward realizes that he’s just a character in Emma’s comics, while Emma soon learns that she’s only a fictional character in the book that Michelle is writing. Michelle, on the other hand, also realizes that she’s just a part of Edward’s movie. She doesn’t even know that she’s an actress in the movie.

Zoom splits between the real world, the comic book world, and the movie world. It’s reminiscent of Stranger Than Fiction, A Scanner Darkly and Inception. It also reminds me of A-ha’s comics-inspired “Take On Me” music video back in the ’80s. It’s a shame that I don’t get to see Gael Garcia Bernal in his true form as he only appears in his comic book form in the movie.

zoom-movie-alternative-poster

Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t have enough depth and fails to explore and develop the characters. Zoom is muddled, silly, absurd and has no direction. Its attempt as an art house film is as unsuccessful as Edward’s efforts in his movie. The ending is a big question mark as the viewers are left wondering what happened to the characters.

What happens to Michelle after she wrote those words in her book? Why is Emma working in that perverted factory in the first place when she could have used her talent somewhere else? What happens to Edward and his unfinished movie? I guess we’ll never know since they are already “smeared” in the comics.

Six More Burning Questions About Donna Paulsen of ‘Suits’

August 16, 2016 at 10:40 PM | Posted in Fandom, TV | Leave a comment
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I have previously said my piece about Donna Paulsen – my favorite character on Suits – and how I think she is being treated in season 6. While I’ve put out a list of the top questions I have about Donna that I think the show’s writers need to address one way or the other, I couldn’t help but wonder more about her.

Donna has made a lasting impression on me and the fans over the years. And the more I think about it, the more I have questions about her character and her background story. So I have made another list here in addition to the previous one which I think would tie up with all the burning questions I have about her and her story.

  1. How did Donna come up with her personal rule of not dating men she work with?

Season 3 of Suits saw Donna telling Harvey in a flashback episode that she doesn’t date men she is working with. How did this rule come about? Has it always been that way with her even before she started working at the NYC DA’s Office? Or does this apply only when she started working for Harvey Specter?

Darvey

Image credit: screencapped.net

And since she admitted that she’s in love with Harvey, would she have broken her rule if Harvey had been more open about his feelings for her?

  1. Does she secretly still want to pursue an acting career?

Fans of the show know that Donna always has a love for theater and that she previously wanted to become an actress but gave it up. But in season 4, she seemed to be starting her acting career again when she did Shakespeare in an episode. Considering that she seemed to be insecure about her position as Harvey’s secretary, is she thinking of pursuing an acting career again? Does her position at the firm leave her wanting more?

Image credit: tvshowtime.com

Image credit: tvshowtime.com

  1. Is Donna still allowing Harvey to pony up her salary?

When Donna found out that Harvey has been augmenting her salary for years without telling her, she got mad at him. Now I really find it hard to believe that Donna of all people didn’t know about this. She should have known years ago that Harvey was doing it. I mean, if I were to check my income tax returns and found any discrepancies in it, I would get suspicious. But I digress.

Image credit: tv.com

Image credit: tv.com

Anyway, when Donna went back to working for Harvey again, is she still allowing Harvey to do this? How does she feel about it?

  1. Where did she work before her job at the NYC DA’s Office?

Before working at Pearson Specter Litt, Donna worked at the NYC DA’s Office where she met and eventually worked for Harvey. But I’m curious if she ever had a job before that. When she wanted to become an actress, did she try working at any theater company or film studio? How many auditions she went to before finally giving up her acting career?

Image credit: screencapped.net

Image credit: screencapped.net

  1. Does she have any siblings?

I would imagine Donna having siblings. Her caring personality, especially towards Mike and Rachel seemed like she has taken care of a younger brother or sister. Sarah Rafferty, who plays Donna, mentioned in an interview before that she thinks Donna might have a brother. I would really like to think that too. I think it would greatly explain why she is sort of a mother hen towards Mike and Rachel, and even Louis.

SUITS -- "Self Defense" Episode 514 -- Pictured: (l-r) Sarah Rafferty as Donna Paulsen, Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane -- (Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/USA Network)

SUITS — “Self Defense” Episode 514 — Pictured: (l-r) Sarah Rafferty as Donna Paulsen, Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane — (Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/USA Network)

  1. When and where did she meet Mitchell?

After Donna’s heartbreak with Harvey, she started dating Mitchell – a guy whom Suitors haven’t even seen yet. I’m curious to know when and where Donna met him. Is he the guy she was supposed to have a date with in season 4? Donna was supposed to have a date with an unnamed guy in season 4 but she cancelled it because Harvey had problems with Louis about Forstman and he needed her. Is Mitchell that same guy or is he a new one whom Donna met?

Donna Paulsen

Image credit: screencapped.net

If he’s a new guy, when did she meet him and where? I would imagine Donna having a social life of her own and maybe she went out with friends after her confrontation with Harvey (you know, the confrontation about how Harvey couldn’t tell her how he loved her) and that’s where she met this guy. But I don’t know. The show’s writers haven’t given any details about this.

These are just my thoughts on Donna and I just think that there is more to her character than what Suits has been showing to the fans. I really hate to think that her character would stay undeveloped this season and in season 7. Every character should have growth and given more depth. While I’m glad that the show has let Harvey and Rachel grow as characters, it should also be the same for Donna.

8 Burning Questions About Donna Paulsen of ‘Suits’

August 14, 2016 at 10:00 AM | Posted in Fandom, TV | 1 Comment
Tags: , ,

I’ve been a big fan of Suits since its early days. I religiously tuned in to every episode since its first season. While Harvey Specter used to be my favorite character on the show, it has since then been replaced with Donna Paulsen. I’m always drawn to strong female characters on TV and I think Donna is one of those who can hold on her own and get people’s attention despite the fact that she’s not the main character on the show.

She has become my favorite character on the show not only because of her sassiness and witty dialogues but also because she is smart, confident, funny, and can go toe-to-toe with alpha males like Harvey Specter. Heck, she even got the balls to slap Daniel Hardman! That was really gutsy on her part. My love for Donna has grown over the seasons so much so that it has already eclipsed my love for Harvey.

Donna Paulsen

Image credit: zap2it.com

I think there’s more to her character than just being Harvey’s secretary. That’s why it frustrates me so much to see her character being reduced this season. Suits is already in its sixth season and yet we Suitors don’t know much about Donna. Aside from her past with Harvey and a glimpse of her as a teenager, not much has been written about her background.

I am upset and disappointed that Donna has been relegated to the sidelines this season. Five episodes in and we only see Donna give advice to people at Pearson Specter Litt and help fix things at the firm. In the last episode, Donna only had three scenes. Sean Cahill, who is only a recurring character on the show, got even more screentime than her. Looking at the plot in the upcoming episodes, I’m afraid that Donna will not have much of a storyline this season.

SUITS -- "Fork in the Road" Episode 413 -- Pictured: Sarah Rafferty as Donna Paulsen - (Photo by: Shane Mahood/USA Network)

SUITS — “Fork in the Road” Episode 413 — Pictured: Sarah Rafferty as Donna Paulsen – (Photo by: Shane Mahood/USA Network)

What happened to the show’s writers? Are they running out of ideas on what to do with Donna? Donna Paulsen might not be the main character on the show but she definitely is a well-loved character among fans. And I think that she deserves a better storyline than just help Harvey, Rachel, Louis, Mike and Jessica.

There are just so many things I want to know about Donna, and there are loose ends in her story that I think the show needs to address.  I’ve listed here the questions that I think should be addressed by the show and I think other Donna fans would agree with me.

1. How does Donna really feel about going back to Harvey as his secretary?

While Donna wanted to help Harvey save Mike from prison in season 5, it wasn’t exactly her idea to return to Harvey. She left him in the first place because it wasn’t healthy for her to stay working for him after he refused to explain how he loved her and after she admitted that she has feelings for him. But when Louis let her go back to Harvey, we didn’t really see how she felt about it. Is she truly over him? If she is (which I doubt), does she even realize that she’s still in danger of falling for Harvey again? How can you get over someone that quickly if you work closely with him every day?

Donna_I don't want your pity

Image credit: giphy.com

And let’s talk about the elephant in the room: When will she and Harvey talk about that “I love you” scene in season 4? Suitors are left hanging with it since that confrontation scene in Harvey’s office. They had dinner together eventually in season 5 but it seemed to me that they talked about everything but that. I really hope that the show would eventually tie this loose end.

2. How did Donna come to the conclusion that she couldn’t work for Harvey anymore?

When Harvey refused to explain in season 4 how he loved Donna, we saw her got hurt by what he said. But we actually didn’t see how she struggled with it. What did she do when she got home after that? Did she talk to someone about it? Did someone advise her to leave Harvey or was it entirely her decision? We only saw her help Louis make arrangements on Norma’s passing but never her struggle with her feelings.

Donna Paulsen leaves Harvey

Image credit: giphy.com

And we didn’t see how she dealt with it after she left him. Sure, she was visibly shaken by it as seen by Rachel but after that scene with her, we never got to see how she really felt. Harvey had panic attacks but what about Donna? Although we saw her start working for Louis and help Mike get the hotel that Rachel wanted as venue for their wedding, I suspected that it was all a front to what she was really feeling at that time. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see that.

3. Does Donna feel insecure about her position at Pearson Specter Litt?

In earlier seasons, Suitors saw Donna as a badass legal secretary that always get things done. But in season 4, we got a glimpse of her vulnerable side. In the episode where Harvey confronted her about lying on her involvement in the Liberty Rail case, she told him that she lied because she wanted to feel just as important as the lawyers. In tears, she said that Harvey and Mike keep being hotshot lawyers while she only answers the phone.

Donna_s4-e15-Intent

Image credit: screencapped.net

That got me into thinking and wondered whether Donna feels insecure about her work at the firm. While I’m glad Suits showed that side of her, I feel that there’s so much more to that story.

4. Why did Donna give up her dream of becoming a stage actor?

I’ve been wondering about this since that episode where she did Shakespeare. In the flashback episode “Not Just A Pretty Face,” she told Harvey that she wanted to be an actress. But what happened after that? When did she decide to stop pursuing an acting career? And most importantly, why?

Donna_Not Just A Pretty Face

Image credit: screencapped.net

I know she mentioned something to Louis before about her dad losing all the money and not wanting to go through the same thing, but that was never explored. We didn’t get to see her struggle with her acting career. What made her decide to give it up? Was it because she got too busy working for Harvey? Or was it because there’s too much competition?

5. When will she put herself first for once?

She went back to working for Harvey in the later part of season 5 because she knew he needed her at that time. But after their attempts of saving Mike failed, she stayed on. Why? So she can keep helping Harvey and Mike? I really want to see Donna put herself first for once. I want to see her life outside work. She’s always been there to help Harvey, Mike, Louis, Rachel and Jessica when they needed her. She’s the linchpin that ties the main characters together during times of trouble. But she deserves to live her own life, and yes even apart from Harvey.

Donna_sigh

Image credit: giphy.com

As much as I want Donna and Harvey to be together, I want her to be her own person. Since Harvey is too coward to express his real feelings for Donna and needs to man up, she deserves to be happy. For once, I want to see her being taken care of instead of the other way around. I don’t want to see her becoming like Rachel who, up until this season, was known only as Mike’s girlfriend.

6. Does she still play the piano?

We’ve seen Donna in a flashback episode as a teenager and an aspiring pianist. And when her dad told her that she couldn’t keep the piano because it wouldn’t fit in their new apartment, she was heartbroken. I’m really curious to know if she ever attempted to play the piano again after that or if she lost interest eventually and turned to acting.

Young Donna in Suits

Image credit: screencapped.net

In season 3, we saw her sit at a piano while Stephen Huntley played the keys. Did she ever attempt to play it before him and did she tell him about her piano?

7. What’s Donna’s mother like? Is Donna close to her as she is to her dad?

Ever since that story about Harvey accidentally spitting a shrimp onto Donna’s mother’s hair during the god-awful dinner party was revealed in season 4, I’ve always wanted to know more about her. What is she like? Is she as sassy as Donna?

Donna and her dad_Suits-s5-e12

Image credit: chilitimes.com

Suitors have already seen most of the main characters’ family members. We’ve seen Harvey’s parents, Mike’s grammy, Rachel’s parents, Jessica’s sister and even Louis’ parents but not much of Donna’s. Sure, her dad appeared briefly in season 5 but I’m really curious about Donna’s mom. I hope the show would finally include her in one of the episodes. I’d like to see a flashback episode when that dinner party actually happened.

8. Is the can opener ritual back?

When Donna left Harvey to work for Louis, the can opener ritual between Donna and Harvey ended. But since she came back to him and Harvey went to trial to defend Mike, did they continue with the pre-trial ritual?

The can opener did not make an appearance again after Harvey returned it to Donna (indirectly, that is) when she left him. Now that Harvey is in trial again as Sutter’s lawyer, I’m wondering if the ritual is back.

can opener in Suits season 5

Image credit: screencapped.net

At this point, I’m beginning to lose interest in Suits not only because the stories haven’t been as compelling as the first two seasons but also because of the way they are treating Donna this season. She is mostly the reason why I’m still watching the show (and the fact that I’m still waiting for Darvey to happen). But I feel that the writers are neglecting her. I know that the focus of the show has always been Harvey and Mike, but the other characters deserve their own storyline, especially the women. They are closely interconnected with each other that I don’t think the show would work if it’s only Harvey and Mike. I can’t imagine the show without Jessica. And I can’t imagine it without Donna. Otherwise, the women might as well have their own spinoff show.

While the writers are finally making good use of Rachel this season (too little, too late in my opinion) and Jessica has been given her own story arc, I feel that Donna is the one character who is still not fully fleshed out. The writers need to give her more depth because if they don’t, then she would just end up as a caricature of herself.

Considering the current circumstances, if they keep this poor treatment of Donna for the entire season, then I’m afraid I might have to dump this show and not watch season 7 anymore.

Money Talks

July 11, 2016 at 11:00 AM | Posted in Film Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

Kapit sa patalim.

This succinctly describes Rosa’s predicament in life in the indie film, Ma’ Rosa. In a world where you have to do everything to survive, there is little choice left except to take big risks regardless of whether it’s even legal or not.

Ma’ Rosa is yet another indie film by Brillante Mendoza that tackles the social ills of Philippine society, particularly poverty and corruption. It took the local cinema by storm when it won an award at the Cannes Film Festival early this year. Its lead star, Jaclyn Jose, bagged the Best Actress award at Cannes beating out veteran Hollywood actresses such as Charlize Theron, Marion Cotillard and Kristen Stewart.

Ma' Rosa movie poster

I was surprised and proud as well when Jaclyn Jose won the award. And it was thrilling to see that it was Mads Mikkelsen (a.k.a TV’s Hannibal Lecter) who announced the winner. The movie wasn’t even locally released yet at that time so the moviegoing public had no idea what it was about. Thankfully, the movie is now showing in local cinemas so I had the opportunity to check it out.

Ma’ Rosa is about a family living in a poor neighborhood somewhere in Manila. Rosa Reyes (played by Jaclyn Jose) and her husband Nestor run a small convenience store adjacent to their humble home with their four kids. However, many people in their neighborhood know that the couple is also selling drugs on the side and using their store as a front. It’s not long before their home is raided by corrupt policemen who take them to the police station. The corrupt cops then demanded a large sum of money from Rosa and her husband in exchange for their freedom. Most of the movie then tackles on how the family scramble to raise the money to pay the cops.

The tone of the entire film was bleak and dreary. There was a general feeling of jadedness among its characters, perhaps highlighting the hard life that they were into. Some camera shots were intentionally shaky. Other shots zoomed in for a closer look at scenes such as Nestor crossing out the name of one of his customers on a tattered notebook, reminding local viewers that this was not your typical mainstream Tagalog movie.

Jaclyn embodied the typical woman I see on the streets with her bare face, basic outfit and street language. Her deadpan facial expressions were refreshing to see. She barely evoked emotions. Only a couple of worrying frowns betrayed the inner turmoil she was feeling. That last scene where she finally let loose and silently cry was truly touching.

Julio Diaz, who played Nestor, looked like he was high on drugs the entire time with his slurred speech and swagger. Maria Isabel Lopez, on the other hand, only had one scene in the movie but she provided some light and amusing moments to the film with her hugot-filled one-liner, “O ayan, isaksak mo ‘yan sa bunganga ng nanay mo!

The script needed tightening, though. Some of the dialogues came out trite, thus resulting in shallow performance by the supporting characters.

Overall, the movie was okay. It was not that bad but it could have been better.

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