My notes on Haunted Mansion:

1. I could have easily written the first fifteen minutes of this movie. It involved a kid searching a (spoiler alert!!) haunted mansion saying different variations of the word “mom”. “Mom? Mom? Mooom? Mom! Mom!! Mooommm!! Mom, mom, mom!!” Instead a mumu appeared and ate him.

2. The best friend character played by Sharlene San Pedro apparently lost her cellphone in the canteen so she nonchalantly walked back to that area. She must have had a Nokia 3310 as well. I remember when I left the same unit in a restaurant and ten minutes later, it was still sitting untouched on the table. I guess possible thieves saw my precious phone more as a liability.

3. Janella Salvador’s character had a third eye so she was approached by dead people everywhere. Forget the mansion, it was haunted wherever she went. Haunted Everywhere would have been more original than anything in this movie.

4. I audibly gasped when I saw Lilet appear onscreen as Janella’s mom. I will forever remember her as the iconic manyika that came to life opposite Herbert Bautista in Pik Pak Boom. (If you know that one, then cheers to a life well-spent.)

5. One of the mean girls in school (who will never be Regina George) gave Janella a box of chocolates with live cockroaches in lieu of actual chocolates. The fact that she didn’t notice the movements of the critters inside the box made me question her senses (sixth or otherwise).

6. I was appalled by the general lack of rules in the school here. One male student had an eyebrow piercing, most of the girls wore skimpy shorts, the faculty even extended the stay of several students in the haunted mansion as a form of punishment. Actually I shouldn’t be surprised because this same school thought that a haunted mansion with a next-door private cemetery would be the perfect place for a retreat.

7. Jun Lana directed the excellent Bwakaw so I wasn’t sure why he was channelling Dementia with the same cheap scares and loud banging noises.

8. An hour into the movie and not one of the lame young actors had been killed yet. Instead we saw the talented ones like LJ Reyes, Joem Bascon, and Iza Calzado get hanged, burned to ashes, or died of boredom (oh wait, that was me).

9. I always sympathize with any movie character that has asthma or uses an inhaler. In this movie, it was the Horror Royalty Janice de Belen. Unfortunately, she had a thankless role where she was asked to say inane lines. When several people started getting killed, her word of advice while looking at the corpses was, “Ang magagawa natin ay ipagdasal na lang sila.” Girl, you cray!!

10. In a movie populated by dim-witted characters that hide under a table to flee a shrieking ghost, I wasn’t surprised that the ghost itself was stupid. It initially got killed by a flaming cross and you’d expect that it would have learned its lesson to stay away from an altar but no, the story flashed three months forward and it still went near an altar and eventually got killed by a rosary.

11. Here’s my favorite scene:

Janella ran to the corpse of her very dead friend Faye and screamed, “Faye, anong nangyari??”

At that point, I laughed so hard that my appendix shot out of my ass, bounced on the theater wall, and knocked the usher unconscious until the end credits.

He was actually the lucky one.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆



My notes on #WalangForever:

1. Remember how almost everything in One More Chance felt familiar because anybody in a current or previous relationship could relate to at least one of the things happening between Basha and Popoy? It was the exact same feeling I had while watching this film.

All of the scenes that involved Ethan (Jericho Rosales, doing his best work since Alagwa) and Mia (Jennylyn Mercado, consistently affecting) were deeply rooted in reality that one would end up thinking “Hey, I’m Ethan and you’re Mia!”, or “I’m the malambing one that would bite your shoulder while you’re playing PS4!”. No? Just me then?

2. I liked how Mia as a writer exploited her own lovelife to come up with her screenplays. The different stages (The Meet Cute, Going Steady, The Kilig, The Proposal, The Missed Event, The Break Up) not only covered an entire relationship cycle but also served as perfect cliches (the rain, the pillow fight, the mass proposal) for her rom-com movies. For the record, I was almost sent out of the theater for laughing really hard at Bb. Joyce Banal.

3. “You” is probably one of the most kilig songs ever written (“It’s your smile/Your face, your lips that I miss/Those sweet little eyes that stare at me and make me say/I’m with you through all the way/’Cause it’s you…). Bitin ba? Why? Were you singing?

Nothing can beat the cover of Roselle Nava, though (you can admit your age and your liking of the song, no judgments).

4. When the exes met at the group dinner scene, it was so well-executed that as a viewer, I felt awkward and restless in my seat. Why can’t exes be nice to each other? Wait, why are they drinking Tanduay on the rocks?

5. One scene that felt completely off was the extended coffee place bit. It just stretched on for several minutes and no amount of Jerald Napoles could save that one. I also wished the movie was paced much better especially considering the abrupt shift in tone on its second half.

6. Jericho recently won (the controversial) Festival Best Actor and I felt bad for him since he was really good in this movie. His natural smugness was put to good use and even if he was sometimes being a jerk to Jennylyn, I couldn’t bring myself to hate him because he was still charming.

He had two really good scenes that made me choke up a little (who am I kidding, I cried my eyes out as if KFC announced that they will no longer be serving chicken). The first one was when he said “Isama mo naman ako sa mga dreams mo. Kasi ikaw kasama ka lagi sa mga plano ko” and the other when his condition was revealed (didn’t you read the SPOILER ALERT?) and he sobbed “God knows how much I want to live…” and obviously I missed a chunk of the actual dialogue because I was already drowning in my own tears.

7. Although I loved the whole montage with the real life events interspersed with the rom-com movies, I wondered why Ethan never saw any of his girlfriend’s works. How was that even possible? He was never invited to any of the film premieres?

8. When asked which actress she would like to portray herself in a rom-com, Mia quickly answered Maja Salvador and I was like “What??!”. I guess she never saw the horrendous My Cactus Girl (“Peelipeens or wordwayd?”). Would it have been too meta if she actually answered Jennylyn Mercado? (FYI, the Maja thing was explained in the mid-credits sequence. Maybe she was the only major young actress available?).

9. A romantic movie will not be complete without a rush-to-the-airport scene. At least this one didn’t end with a kiss. Although I was still bothered that Mia was able to reach Immigration without a passport or plane ticket.

10. Even with the heartbreaking scenes that involved Ethan’s revelation to his best friend, the revelation to his mom, and the reverse proposal, I probably lost it the most during the Taiwan happy times montage. I guess it was because I knew that their happiness still wouldn’t last. Love just couldn’t save a doomed relationship.

In the last few scenes, Mia was still convincing the audience to believe in forever. But then the theater lights turned on and suddenly we’re back in reality confronting the truth: walang forever.

Rating: ★★★★☆



My notes on Honor Thy Father:

1. Two of the best films I’ve seen this year started with a scene involving a stray dog and both ended with a tragedy. These canine metaphors (dog-eat-dog world? Oppression? Survival? Resiliency?) completely served their purpose and were the perfect jumping-off points for these gritty and brutal portraits of evil within our society.

2. I’m not a fan of networking and this made me think thrice on risking any investments involving fast money. For my friends that did get rich through this scheme though, it’s never too late to send me a Christmas basket.

3. I liked how the little girl cast as John Lloyd Cruz’s daughter looked so much like him (eyebags and all). Proper casting doesn’t really seem to be top priority in the local industry where movies and stories are created for and to suit actors so I’m happy to see her in this role. I just wish she did much better in some of the heavy scenes.

4. In a film where every scene was excellently shot, my favorite was the savage skewering of religious fanaticism in the House of Yeshua sequence. Tirso Cruz III was just amazing, fully inhabiting the role of a pastor preaching to his choir. His magnetic presence was so strong that I actually understood why his flock was drawn to his charisma. For almost converting me into his religion, give this man his due please (MMFF jury, this is your warning, er, reminder).

5. That brilliantly-staged looting scene was organized chaos. It crushed my heart knowing that good people could really do these terrible acts out of sheer desperation.

6. Picture-perfect moments. Every single frame was just amazing. Recalling that cemetery scene still gives me goosebumps. Bravo, just bravo!

7. John Lloyd Cruz is the best working actor in Philippine Cinema now (any violent reactions?) I couldn’t select just one scene where he conveyed a multitude of emotions just with his eyes. It’s no blasphemy that he be compared to the great Nora Aunor. Yes, he has reached that level of acting.

8. The head-shaving scene was played for drama in the trailer but it was not milked for tears in the actual film. That kind of restraint made me love this film even more. It could have been an easy play on the heartstrings but it still stung without even trying. And John Lloyd’s entire aria about the evils of man and how one should learn to fight back gave me chills.

9. People will be surprised with Meryll Soriano’s performance here but she has always been consistently excellent in previous indie movies (Donor, Rotonda, Room Boy). I have some of these on DVD if you want to see more of her greatness.

10. That final scene with the haunting song playing in the background is the reason why we should never give up on Philippine Cinema. Our local filmmakers can produce world-class quality films. All they need is your support. Run to the nearest theater and watch this now. NOW!

Rating: ★★★★★


My notes on My Bebe Love #KiligPaMore:

1. One of the first few scenes showed Vic Sotto looking at a mirror and combing his eyebrows. This was meant to be funny and it was the type of slapstick comedy that will be used all-throughout the movie. It felt dated (Pinoy comedy has not evolved much?) but still elicited laughs from the audience. A succeeding scene had Joey de Leon referring to Vic’s “Sandata ni Hudas”. Dated and recycled.

2. Aiai delas Alas, on the other hand, played her character really loud and broad (with matching frilly hair, pastel outfits, and purple & green eyeshadow in case it still wasn’t loud enough for the viewers). She kept screaming all of her lines reminding me of my mom whenever I forget to place my clothes in the hamper. I think they would make the perfect BFFs.

3. I was thrown off by the ADHD-style editing with screens flipping and splitting every few minutes. If only it helped the movie’s really slow pacing.

4. The people that will only watch this to see the big screen chemistry slash film debut of the Alden Richards-Maine Mendoza tandem will be very disappointed. The material completely failed them with their love story feeling tacked on for ticket sales. I didn’t feel even one ounce of kilig (something that we overdose on in the Kalyeserye episodes). FYI, they recycled some elements of the Kalyeserye in the movie (the long table joke? Seen and done). I was surprised there was no falling wall to separate the lovebirds. Here’s hoping they will have a good rom-com sa tamang panahon.

5. I think the worst offense of this movie were the endless shoved-in-your-face product placements. Similar to My Little Bossing, it had a mini-commercial shilling Tide for turning clothes sparkly white for only 6 pesos. That bit had no bearing on a previous or succeeding scene. It just had to be inserted because Vic endorsed the said product. One scene even had Alden shopping for Tide in a convenience store. Maybe he missed laundry day?

6. Let’s play the annual Shameless Shilling Name Game: Bear Brand Adult Plus, Glutamax, O+, Phoenix Petroleum, Tide, Goldilocks, McDonald’s, Talk n Text, Solmux, Google, PLDT Home, San Miguel, and Coke. Do I get a perfect score this year?

7. Enough of the hashtags please. Whenever a movie character starts sentences with the word hashtag, a Twitter bird dies and goes to heaven.

8. The best performer in this movie was actually Valeen Montenegro. She looked gorgeous and fit her role well. I hope we see more of her in better roles.

9. Does Alden smoke?

10. That scene where they traversed Daang Hari to go to and from Zambales made me laugh out really loud.

11. To be fair, Vic and Aiai played off each other well and surprisingly delivered the expected kilig (fully supported by the audience reactions). Maybe the film should have focused on this love story instead.

12. Lola Nidora hinted at a possible sequel (highly likely given the long lines at the cinemas). Hashtag fantastic baby. Hashtag groan.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆