Bad Genius (Thailand movie) Review

I NEVER THOUGHT A STORY ABOUT CHEATING ON AN EXAM WILL MAKE ME FEEL SO MUCH!!!

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Bad Genius, known in Thai as Chalard Games Goeng (ฉลาดเกมส์โกง), is 2017 Thailand heist movie that broke records left and right. (Well deserved, if i may add!). The film was released in Thailand back in May but only released in the Philippines this October.

*******************************WARNING: SPOILERS*******************************

Bad Genius is about mass cheating in STIC (SAT) scores of hopeful high school students. The story centers on Lynn, the straight-A scholarship student, Bank, another smart scholarship student, Pat, rich and scheming douche guy, and Grace, the wanna-be-actress-but-too-dumb-for-it student. Lynn and Bank flew to Australia to take the SAT exam first (earlier timezone than Thailand). They then sent the answers to Pat and Grace in Thailand who printed the answers via the Grace’s family’s printing press as an encoded bar code in the pencils that the students who paid for the answer sheet will use.

The movie is ingenious. Never thought that I would feel so much from it. I’ve heard positive reviews but I didn’t know that I would completely be blown away by it. The story is simple but there’s a lot of messages regarding our society that can be fleshed out.

Small things must not be overlooked. The massive cheating wasn’t just planned overnight. It started out as a mere gesture of sincerity. Lynn met Grace on her first day in school and quickly became friends due to Grace’s outgoing and fun personality. Grace opened up about her desire to be in the school play but she needs to have at least 3.75 in Math to participate. And the thing is she’s far from it since she’s dumb. A gesture of “friendship” during the exam, Lynn sincerely wants to support Grace and her passion for acting, so when Grace told Lynn that she doesn’t know the answer to the exam questions, even if they have reviewed the EXACT set of question, Lynn decided to provide the answers to Grace via eraser.

Once you start doing something, even if it’s just a small step, it will be hard to stop. So you must not just dismiss thinking twice before doing it.  Small things can get pretty big overtime. For example, you start stealing small things — hair clips, plastic bags, coins — nothing alarming at the start. But it’ll build in you a habit and decreasing satisfaction. Thus you must go the next level — stealing bills, big changes, lying through all of it when asked. When this does not even satisfy you, you’ll then go for the big things, pick pocketing, stealing big things, large sum, etc. In other cases, we always have “this time only” excuse. We’ll just do this at this time. But then that’s what we have been saying for the millionth time even before we realize we are doing it. This is building in us the habit of justifying  the not advisable thing we are doing. It started out small but snowballed, factoring in various elements, into a massive scale of cheating when money became involved which brings us to the second point. Everything boils to money.

“The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”

I Timothy 6:10

Money is indeed the root cause of all evil, but this is backed by inequality and unfair circumstances that we are born with. When the rich and pompous Pat offered the poor scholarship Lynn to cheat for him and offered to pay 3000 Baht per subject, Lynn declined at first but then decided to accept it when Pat mentioned that there’s a “Tea Ceremony” money which the students must pay for supposedly administration costs of the expensive school they are in. One thing led to another and we have our story (see Point #1). On this second point though, we can see that even the “good” and “moral” people can forget their beliefs and morals when faced with a large sum of money. A great example is Bank. Bank was the straight-laced guy who couldn’t tolerate cheating. Going so far as to reporting to the headmistress that Tong was cheating off Lynn during their exam. But in the end, wanting to end the dirt poor life he is living, and providing her mother a better life, he dropped his morals and joined the heist. WILL YOU CHOOSE MORALS OR MONEY?

Third point that we can see is the inequality of society and how it plays a big role in the decisions we are making. We can see inequality and unfairness of life (social status quo)  that drives “good” people to grab hold on to the money offer even if they know they are bending and even betraying rules of their principle and morals. We see here the typical stereotype — RICH but DUMB and SMART but POOR (although i honestly don’t believe the rich are really dumb since they know how to use their resources *money* to their advantage) — and how the RICH EXPLOITS THE POOR. And in which at the end of the day, the poor will always be the scapegoat. In a sense, in this battle of Rich VS Poor, the rich always wins. No matter what the circumstance is. Inequality can also be seen when Lynn’s father was lobbying Lynn into her acceptance into the school. He only wants what is best for Lynn and decided that the school can provide that because it’s one of the known schools connecting graduates to study abroad programs which can lead to a brighter future. Lynn’s father is wanting only what’s the best, but it became the worst instead. Here, we can see that access to education is not equal to all. Thus, if you’r born into money, you’ll already guaranteed with available resources, no worrying about where to get the next meal and thus you have the chance to focus more on your study. But the poor needs to struggle with everything they have just to have a decent meal and be able to study. The image below shows this point.

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Photo credit: @banksy

Lastly, a strong support system is what we all need to go ahead and face the consequences of our actions. Lynn, in the end, decided to confess everything to her father and report it to media. And in the last scenes of the movie that her father never left her. We can see that we really need a strong support system, family, to get us through our mistakes, our bad decisions because, if not, we might just make more wrong choices.

Bad genius is a bad ass film that everyone must watch. The story reflects our society. It’s a good movie to make you think. It also tugs at your heartstrings. The actors are also good!!! They have portrayed the characters well especially LYNN!!!

If you haven’s watched it yet. WATCH IT NOW! You’ll definitely won’t regret! 🙂

Girl’s Trip

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I have never laughed out loud in a while but thanks to this movie, my energy was depleted for the rest of the night.

Girl’s Trip is one R-Rated Comedy Film. It’s the first movie I’ve watched with almost a black girl cast. And I so much enjoyed it! This movie is hilarious and entertaining but at the same time, precious lessons are to be learned regarding friendship, relationship, and self-worth. In short, it is golden.

Girl’s Trip is about four college best friends (Flossy Possy) – Sasha (Queen Latifah), Ryan (Regina Hall), Dina (Tiffany Haddish), and Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith). Ryan is a successful author and motivator. Sasha is a struggling celebrity expose columnist. Dina is a loud, boisterous, recently fired, office worker. Lisa is a divorced nurse with two kids. The group decided to reunite in an all expense paid trip to New Orleans by Ryan after five years of not seeing each other. Thus, the Girl’s Trip began.

I have never had a group that I can call best friends and this is what I regret missing out the most on. Sure, I have close friends in high school and college, but we’ve lost in touch through the years. I have work friends but mostly they are only that, work friends. Girl’s Trip showed me how it’s nice to have a set of friends that will have your back no matter what, that will show you that you’re being stupid, and that will grow and be with you through thick and thin, social standing and long distance be damned.

Each character is solid and really shines in the movie. Dina is the loud one who acts before she thinks. Dina is always the mediator, the mature one of the bunch. Sasha and Ryan are kinda similar in a way that they have huge egos. The varying characters make up the fun in this movie. There were a lot of hilarious scenes, like OMG scenes, like when they did the zipline and Lisa got stuck in the middle and burst her bladder, spraying her pee to the lookouts below. And Dina did the same. Or when they got so high after drinking the spike drink Dina gave them and they were all doing these crazy things in a club. Or when the homeless person barged into their motel room looking for paid sex and when he was thrown out, he flashed them thru the huge glass windows. Or the sexual innuendos and clips.

But aside from the funny parts, this movie also has its moments. Moments that will give you lessons and let you introspect. It turns out the famed marriage and perfect life if Ryan is not picture perfect at all. Stuart, her husband is having an affair with an instagram hoe whom he got pregnant. Ryan, who’s pride is so high doesn’t want the public to know and is always defending Stuart in front of her friends with her excuses such as they are working on their marriage, they are doing counseling, blah, blah, blah. That’s stupid. And I really was getting pissed at Ryan’s character because of this. She looks like a strong person on the outside. Even her mantra is “I am strong. I am powerful. I am beautiful.” But in reality she’s weak. She’s being eaten by her pride, not wanting to confront the reality. All those to keep her image. I may have never been in a relationship but I definitely don’t want to be in one if it will just make me lose my ground and forget who I am.

In the end, Rachel came through with the help of the Flossy Possy. She confessed to the public and even made a major breakthrough. We are our own selves before are somebody else’s wife, partner, etc. Don’t forget that.

Girl’s Trip is a laugh trip combined with moving elements rolled into one. Definitely a must watch film!

 

P.S. I love Queen Latifah’s hair styles in the movie! Every. single. one.

 

Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle

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I failed to watch Kingsman: the Secret Service in the theaters and I immediately regretted it because this is the type of movie that you just have watch in the big screen because of all the action and awesome moves. Thus, I decided not to miss watching Kingsman 2 in the theaters when it shows.

Kingsman 2 still provides the same awesome-ness when it comes to the action scenes – the mad editing, great camera works, the slow mos and fast scenes. The story is a simple and linear one, though it runs deeper in society. Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle focuses on the fight of the remaining Kingsman (aka Eggsy and Harry w/ forever loyal Merlin) versus The Golden Circle, a worldwide, underground drug producer and dealer based in Cambodia.

After the Golden Circle eliminated every Kingsman via missile, Eggsy, lucky enough since he’s not at home, along with Merlin went to Kentucky, USA to find Statesman, which turned out is a Secret Service based in the US founded by a Kingsman as well. Eggsy and Merlin also came in contact with Harry who’s experiencing retrograde amnesia after Stateman rescued him from his fatal shot last movie. After gaining back his memory, the Eggsy and Harry, along with Agent Whiskey from Statesman, went on a mission to retrieve the antidote to the deadly Dancing Virus that Poppy (owner of the Golden Circle) injected into her drugs.

The journey to get the millions affected by the virus hit close to home. In the Philippines, the way how the US President reacted to Poppy’s demands before she releases the antidote (1. To legalize drugs 2. To make her and her companions untouchable), is similar to what might have been in our President’s mind based on the actions seen. It all boils down to money. Innocents be damned. I definitely understand how badly drug pushers and users affect the society but doesn’t everyone deserves a chance to get better and treated? Moreover, in the ongoing war against drugs, only the innocents and small time users are the ones affected. Why can’t the root cause of the problem be the target? Why? Because of money, because of ties. The promised change is just an ideal at this point since the ones at the top will stay at the top and the ones at the bottom will be the ones to suffer. We are just pawns in this game. Sadly, we’ re the ones who suffers in the end.

Kingsman 2 is trying to accomplish a larger scene, a larger scale, but even though the great editing and camera work’s still there plus Taron Egerton as Eggsy is definitely a great eye candy on screen, it still kinda fails to deliver it’s potential. And with this I don’t know if there will be a Kingsman 3. It seems that the plot for this franchise is narrowed already.

Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle is a good movie to catch if you’re looking for some bad ass camera works. the locations are wisely picked, and the music is definitely my choice of music (I’m an oldie trapped in a twenty-something body). Plus Elton John is there! Although comparing it to Kingsman: the Secret Service, the Secret Service still holds the crown. Nothings beats the original still.

Kita Kita: The Unpopular Opinion

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Kita Kita (I see you) is a 2017 Filipino romantic-comedy movie starring Empoy Marquez and Alessandra De Rossi.

Mostly shot in the beautiful city of Sapporo, Japan, it tells the story of Lea (Alessandra De Rossi), who experienced temporary blindness after discovering her boyfriend cheating with one of her friends. She then have her heart hardened afterwards.

Enter Tonyo (Empoy Marquez) who came to the rescue as the energetic, bubbly, neighbor, who kept on talking, bordering annoying, to Lea every single day. Lea finally went along, and the two got close within the span of two weeks, going out places, touring around Hokkaido, and softening Lea’s walls until Tonyo’s untimely (and might I add, stupid, who crosses the street when you know there’s a rush of cars approaching?) death. Lea then discovers that Tonyo had already known her beforehand as she went to Tonyo’s house with the key he previously gave. Tonyo narrates in a letter he was to give to Lea that he was the homeless she was giving all those cabbages to, the banana that complemented her heart the evening it was broken by her boyfriend skipping their date, and the one who rescued and was there when she fell to the ground when her vision started getting blurry and lost consciousness.

The following is just my opinion. I am no movie critic by a long shot. I just needed to put in text what I felt.

I enjoyed the film. There is no doubt in that. It was funny with all the punch lines and witty banters of the two main characters. However, at the back of mind, I could not help but think that this is a fine example of a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” concept to some extent, only, it’s not the girl character who exhibits the characteristics, but the boy instead.

“A Manic Pixie Dream Girl or MPDG, is a term coined by film critic Nathan Rabin after seeing Elizabethtown. It refers to “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” A pretty, outgoing, whacky female romantic lead whose sole purpose is to help broody male characters lighten up and enjoy their lives. ”

– Urban Dictionary

Tonyo (Empoy Marquez) is a deviation from your usual leading man – hunk, buff, rich, and famous. He is not that good-looking if you look at him from the society’s POV. He is not rich (although I wonder how much he has saved up to afford all those trips he had with Lea when he was practically jobless at the time). What he is, is a funny (the characteristic you associate, usually, with side characters), chatty, kinda creepy and stalker-ish guy, who helped Lea survived her temporary blindness phase and get back on with her life, and who conveniently disappeared (or died) seconds after Lea got her vision back.

So forgive me for otherwise thinking Kita Kita as a movie with a fresh take on the romantic side wherein the leading man is not a Piolo Pascual, John Lloyd Curz, Paulo Avelino, or insert-name-of-who-is-popular-at-the-moment), it was a movie that actually exploits the stereotype for the funny-but-not-good looking male characters. It sure is different from your usual rom-com formula, but the difference is on the expense of another character.

I get that it became wildly popular because the leading man is a funny-but-not-good looking-guy who gets to be the leading man nonetheless but does it change anything?

No, because in the end, the funny-but-not-good looking guy still DID NOT GET THE GIRL.

 

P.S. Here’s a slam I really love describing Manic Pixie Dream Girl from Olivia Gatwood.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Olivia Gatwood