Films of February

I watched 10 movies in February. I saw a naked Maggie Gyllenhaal, a gaunt Toby Maguire, and giant hotdogs falling from the sky. These were fine movies but could not hold a candle to the other 7. These are:

1. Man on Wire. An edge-of-your-seat documentary about a Frenchman who attempts in 1975 to tightrope-walk the 200 feet that separates the two World Trade Centers in 1975. The film plays like a thriller where the main protagonist and a slew of supporting characters meticulously plan a bizarre and almost impossible to pull-off attempt.

2. Requiem for a Dream. Darren Aronosfsky directs this 2000 gem about addiction – drugs, weight-loss pills, fame, fortune – and how addicts stretch themselves to attain the orgasmic but temporary euphoria. Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connely, Marlon Wayans are all terrific. The film also has one of the best musical scores ever recorded.

3. Leaving Las Vegas. An alcoholic bent on drinking himself to death. A hooker eking out a living. These two social pariahs meet and spend one sexless night together, develop a bond, and decides to live together. Elisabeth Shue is irresistibly good but this film is owned by Nicolas Cage.

4. Invictus. Clint Eastwood directs another gem, which he does almost annually starting from 2003’s Mystic River to last year’s Gran Torino, about how Nelson Mandela was able to unite his country in post-apartheid South Africa as they host and win the 1995 World Rugby League World Cup. This is an inspiring film and one that all Filipinos should watch to see how real and honest leaders should be.

5. Shine. This 1996 film directed by Scott Hicks follows the life of pianist David Helfgott as a young boy trained by a father (Armin Mueller-Stahl) obsessed on winning to his years as a music scholar in London to his mental breakdown. The actors who play David Helfgott are terrific – Noah Taylor as the teenaged David and Geoffrey Rush, who won an Oscar Best Actor for the role, as the grownup David. The last minutes of the film is a little bit like Mr. Holland’s Opus but I ain’t complaining.

6. Orphan. The orphan in this thriller is a fucking bitch. I wanted to grab her out of the TV and give her an unforgettable spanking.

7. The Boys Are Back. This film, based on a Simon Carr memoir The Boys are Back in Town, is about a widower and sportswriter (Clive Owen) struggling to raise and bond with his two sons – one from his dead wife, another from a previous marriage.

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