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: ★★★★★

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