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The Spotless Mind

Musings of a Non-Film Reviewer. I pay, I watch, I comment.

Month

July 2016

CAN THIS BE LOVE (Jose Javier Reyes, 2005)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Can This Be Love:

1. I recently had a discussion with a friend who used to work for Star Cinema regarding that studio’s process of churning out stories for ABS-CBN’s roster of artists (meaning projects were custom-made for hot stars or popular love teams). It was very much evident in this movie that was obviously created to showcase the winners of Star Circle Quest Batch 1, primarily grand winner Hero Angeles and runner-up Korean sensation Sandara Park. Sadly, what could have been an interesting take on cultural differences was hobbled by rom-com tropes and the limited range of the leads.

2. It wasn’t a surprise that Hero won SCQ because he had a little bit of everything going for him: the F4 circa Meteor Garden hair, the deep dimples pre-Alden Richards, the moreno skin unusual in an industry (and nation) obsessed with glutathione, and a great sob story to boot. As Ryan, he struggled a lot in his dramatic scenes where he mostly shouted his lines and acted like a complete bitch (even to Sandara’s character, Daisy). It certainly didn’t help that his uneven Mary Kay foundation that stopped mid-neck and horrible lip gloss and liner made me laugh every time the camera focused on his face.

3. Hindi naman nagpakabog si Sandara with her cosplay every day look with matching purple eyeshadow, pink blush, red lipstick combo. Thankfully the role didn’t require much from her except to fill the Pambansang Krung-Krung bill so she was okay just looking and acting silly. Her genuine challenge in speaking and understanding Filipino (“Slow down please!”) made her more endearing.

4. The pair’s love story started from a text message that was sent incorrectly through their Nokia 3310s. And here I thought the “Sorry, wrong send” message only worked if you were trying to make papansin from your deadma crush or happy in another relationship ex.

5. Roderick Paulate played Ryan’s landlord and provided much needed comic relief. He was in full Kumander Gringa mode by way of Maricel Soriano in any of her babaeng bakla roles (which was basically 80% of her filmography).

6. Ryan being the typical Pinoy was fuming mad when he read Daisy’s paper titled “What’s Wrong With Filipinos” but had no problems showing his prejudice against Koreans. Or maybe he really just had anger issues since he threw a hissy fit when Daisy visited him while he was in the midst of terrible constipation and even called her “Hoy” after she walked out. He was very patola to girls that I actually wondered if he really liked Daisy, especially after referencing Tito Boy Abunda and The Buzz.

7. Wait, Daisy’s Korean so she had to eat noodles all day every day? Or was she just required to eat them because they were different varieties of Tekki Asian Classics? (More product placement alert: BNY Jeans and Globe Autoload Max).

8. In one scene, Eugene Domingo (as Daisy’s landlord) mentioned President Magsaysay to Ryan and he was completely clueless, presumably because he was taking up Nursing. What?! He didn’t have any Philippine History classes in grade school or high school? Please.

9. Music video montage galore (I think I counted four!) and that didn’t even include the resort scene where kids danced to Sandara’s In or Out song.

10. Most cringe-worthy (aka my favorite LOL) scene:

Ryan: “How do you say ‘I love you’ in Korean?”
Daisy: “Saranghae.”
Ryan: “Saranghae.”
Daisy: “This is not the end yet, right?”
Ryan: “Oo, this is not the end. Sasamahan pa kita sa airport.”

I kid you not.

11. What was up with that rushed scrapbook ending? Naubusan ng budget so plane ticket na lang yun Korea trip? Tapos wedding invite na agad? Anyare sa Korean family vs Pinoys conflict? Argh! Pass me the kimchi.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

HOW TO BE YOURS (Dan Villegas, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on How To Be Yours:

1. In one crucial scene, babes Anj (Bea Alonzo) and Niño (Gerald Anderson) alternately slept and woke up in one bed, while barely seeing or interacting with each other. Both were too tired from their respective jobs and their conflicting schedules further worsened the situation (did that sound familiar, BPO peeps?). It was a painfully realistic depiction of a relationship that probably wasn’t meant to last. But was it really?

My biggest problem with this movie was that it wanted us to believe that career and love (and to some extent happiness) were mutually exclusive. It would always be between Choice A (love makes the world go round) or Choice B (werk, werk, werk, werk, werk, werk). Weirdly enough, one character pointed out that there was actually a middle ground (Choice C), although it would be hard work for both parties. In that world, this A Second Chance-lite movie wouldn’t even exist.

2. Since there were several coffee references here, I just had to mention that I loved the sight of Bea and Gerald’s clasped hands because their skin tones perfectly complemented each other, very much like coffee and cream. Or should that be Kopiko LA Coffee and Cream?

3. I found it funny that Niño took a small bite on the crust of the sandwich that Anj prepared and immediately declared it masarap. I could only imagine his foodgasm if he ate at Angel’s Burger (“Sa unang kagat, tinapay lahat!”).

Also, why would anyone ask a significant other to gauge cooking skills? No sane guy would ever criticize his girlfriend’s salpicao dish even if it tasted like bistek. (This joke was done much better in Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo when Ryan Agoncillo praised the afritada of wife Judy Ann Santos that prompted her to scream: “Pochero ‘to! Pochero ang paborito mong ulam!”.)

4. Definitely not complaining that Janus del Prado was basically playing the same BFF character in every Star Cinema rom-com. Who else could pull off a lame and awkward pick-up line like, “Joan? Joanna be mine?”.

5. More than the constant use of po (currently trademarked by Popstar Royalty Sarah Geronimo), I was really annoyed by the repetitive mentions of the word babe (douchebag alert: I called all of my significant others that to avoid saying the wrong pet name). Maybe Star Cinema should have a Babe Time contest and reward the person that would be able to give the exact word count.

6. The two lines that made me laugh out loud:

• “Love is like a rosary. Lagi ko dinadasalan.” (A welcome change from the full of mysteries joke.)

• “Hoy, mga walanghiya! Sa social media pa kayo naglandian!” (I found it weird though that the only tweets showing up were theirs. They weren’t following anyone else?)

The line that made me groan out loud:

• “I gave you everything, but you left me with nothing.” (Everything except understanding?)

Speaking of groan-worthy, I did not like the fake-out announcement at all. At all.

7. Those legs in the supermarket scene. Wow! (Also, I loved that Niño’s clothes were mostly pink. No wonder he was so tough with Anj.)

8. Okay, tell me if I missed anything but didn’t Niño say that he lived in Makati while Anj stayed in an apartment in UP Village? How was he able to show up at the gate as soon as she mentioned “ang magdadala ng kape, mamahalin ko forever”?

9. I could almost guarantee that Chef Pocholo’s (Bernard Palanca) recent torrents were episodes of MasterChef and Hell’s Kitchen.

10. Why wasn’t the other friend talking? And did he have a crush on Anj (or possibly Niño)?

11. Please let this be the last artsy sex scene set to the music of a Star Records artist. Or maybe something other than a kiss-the-back-of-the-shoulders shot?

(Was I the only one praying that they never hit any of the expensive-looking chandeliers? Was anyone wondering if that’s where Ate Vi’s Everything About Her character got hers? Were you somewhat playing Sia’s Chandelier in your head as soon as they entered the office? We need to talk.)

12. My takeaway from this movie was that it was okay to be jobless and nganga dahil mabubusog naman kayo ng pag-ibig. Aww, how sweet!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

LIGHTS OUT (David Sandberg, 2016)

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My notes on Lights Out:

1. Whenever I watch a horror flick, I feel like I work in Monsters Inc. (“We scare because we care!”) because I find glee in hearing the screams of the audience. The more frightened they are, the louder their cries (to the point of being annoying), the noisier the theater, the more I enjoy it. Sometimes I even end up liking that experience more than the actual movie.

2. If you still haven’t seen the short film that this was based on, here’s the link: https://youtu.be/-fDzdDfviLI. It’s only three minutes, it’s free, and it’s infinitely better than the full-length feature. (I liked the cameo of Lotta Losten, though. She was the star of the short and played the assistant during the opening sequence.)

3. The basic premise of the movie hinged on the flicking of light switches. But really, if you saw a strange figure standing in the dark, would you still turn the lights off (then on and off and on and off) again just to check if it was just your imagination?

That was exactly what the people here did the entire time. Characters entered rooms without bothering to turn on the lights. Their idea of safeguarding a haunted house was placing tape on the switches (because they never heard of power fluctuations and blackouts) and lighting candles (because an open flame would never get blown out by the softest fart).

4. In one scene, the boyfriend of Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) left a used sock in her drawer as a sign of taking their relationship to the next level. The fact that she was still able to locate that hidden sock meant that it must have smelled really bad and I was surprised that she didn’t break up with him right there and then.

5. If there was one thing that creeped me out here, it was when the mother (Maria Bello) was talking to something (someone?) in her room and kept using the pronoun “we” in her questions (“Did we wake you?”). I wish they were able to develop this mental illness plot further and gone The Babadook route. Monsters could be lurking under the bed, but I was more scared of the ones inside our heads.

6. Martin (Gabriel Bateman) was one brave kid. The door (with a creepy shadow behind it) slammed shut on him and he just calmly walked down with his backpack, all prepared for a slumber party with his sister (I did chuckle a bit when he said, “Ready!”). If that happened to me, I probably would have peed my pants and let out the loudest non-human shriek.

7. Where could I buy that wind-up rechargeable flashlight? I laughed so hard in that scene because someone loudly said, “Ay ang taray!”.

8. Should we blame Sadako for starting this trend of ghosts with broken bones? It just wouldn’t be as scary unless they were all hunched up and dragging their feet, right?

9. “There’s no you without me.” These hugot lines are basically everywhere.

10. I couldn’t wait for a local rip-off (“Brownout”?) where the climax would be the mother (preferably Lotlot de Leon) shining brightly and killing the darkness monster because she’s the…Ilaw ng Tahanan. Whee!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

ANINO SA LIKOD NG BUWAN (Jun Lana, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!! (Also: Rated R-18)

My notes on Anino Sa Likod Ng Buwan:

1. If you haven’t seen this film yet, do yourself a big favor. Stop reading this, head over to the nearest cinema, and watch this two-hour one-take achievement in local filmmaking. You can thank me later.

2. I was greatly reminded of two things while watching. The first was Joe Wright’s adaptation of Anna Karenina, a visual feast with its moving sets and changing backdrops all within the confines of a theater. This one had the exact same feel, although it was limited to just one camera moving around in a tiny hut. Everything was expertly-staged and it had to be because there wasn’t a lot of room for errors (I could only imagine how frustrating it would have been to keep reshooting if major flubs were committed).

This type of staging also supported the oftentimes theatrical cadences and lyrical dialogue (one character’s description of another: “Lubog ang mata, humpak ang pisngi, ang mga linya sa mata niya na tila bahay ng gagamba”, which was exactly how I would describe myself before breakfast).

3. With just a few choice words (“walang kuryente”, “walang tubig”, “kamote ulit”, “nakaw na sardinas”, “sobrang init”), it quickly established its setting in treacherous ’90s Marag Valley (also known as “No Man’s Land” in Kalinga-Apayao). The battle between the military and the rebels placed the land in such a depressing state that one character actually felt relieved that his wife had a miscarriage, rather than watch their baby die of hunger. Now I would always remember that before complaining about something as petty as EDSA traffic.

4. Farmer Nardo (Anthony Falcon) kept saying the line “Wag mong gagalawin ang asawa ko. Akin yan!” that it all but guaranteed wife Emma (LJ Reyes) and bantay-salakay soldier/friend Joel (Luis Alandy) hooking up in that now notorious 10-minute graphic sex scene (even in black and white though, I could have sworn that Luis used plaster; don’t ask).

But really, if there were only three actors and two of them had full frontal nudity, whatever happened to solidarity? We could have easily judged who had the bigger ari. (Also, I take everything that Mo Twister says with a grain of salt so…)

5. I could still remember LJ as a Starstruck Survivor trying her best to squeeze out the tears in that drama workshop under Gina Alajar so that she wouldn’t be replaced by an Avenger (Starstruck, not Marvel) in the weekly eliminations. Well, this fearless Urian winner had definitely gone a long way. She was just amazing here, to say the least (even better than when I last saw her in Tanghalang Pilipino’s Juego de Peligro).

If I remembered correctly, in the entire two hours, she only blatantly tripped during the “puke at mga suso” line, but then who wouldn’t (again, one-take, no cuts)? Even her cunnilingus aria was spectacular. Brava!

6. Similar to Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe, I really liked the inclusion of a local mystical creature in the discussion. Nothing else could describe the horrors of that time like a homegrown kapre. To quote one character, “Sino ba talaga ang kaaway?”.

7. Oh, the other thing that I was reminded of was the FX TV show The Americans with its smart take on spies, lies, double crosses, deceit, and even unrequited love.

8. “Lahat tayo ay mga baliw na nagpapanggap na may katinuan sa pag-iisip.”

9. It was funny that after the final scene when the screen faded to black, nobody stood up and left because we were all expecting an end credits sequence. Waiting for it, though, was like waiting for a redemption that will never come.

Rating: ★★★★★

DUKOT (Paul Soriano, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Dukot:

1. We sadly live in a world of victim-blaming, where a grieving mother gets shamed as a negligent parent, an injured person is reprimanded for not being more careful, and a woman who cries rape gets bashed for being a tease with her plunging neckline and short skirt. It scares me that a lot of people have this knee-jerk reaction, especially since I see myself as one of them.

When the movie opened with Ellen Adarna in a skimpy outfit trying to withdraw from an ATM at such an odd hour, my brain just kept thinking that she would get robbed and she had no one to blame but herself. My worst fear happened and she was even shot and left for dead. I hated myself for having thought that way and it made me want to do another self-check. Unfortunately, that was all the deep thinking that this movie required me to do.

2. Although technically impressive, Dukot was marred by lapses in logic and believablity, falling short of being an effective thriller. Sure, one could easily say everything that happened was based on true events, but another could argue that if that were the case, then this should just have been a documentary. No amount of awesome aerial shots or perfectly-framed scenes could compensate for the lack of an engrossing story (a dream sequence to generate tension, really?). I felt very much like one of the guests of Mr. Sandoval (Ricky Davao), watching him discuss a Powerpoint presentation about himself during his birthday party.

3. I think my lack of compassion for his family was because he was a corrupt Customs officer. I still had not forgotten the vultures in my city’s Customs office that charged an exorbitant amount for my non-taxable Amazon book orders. Also, he was the type of stingy father that would rather haggle with his son’s kidnappers rather than pull strings to come up with the ransom money.

When his daughter Cathy (Shaina Magdayao) called him up in the middle of the night crying that Carlo (Enrique Gil) was kidnapped, he didn’t even show any concern or bother asking if she was ok and just calmly said that everything was insured so she shouldn’t be crying. Father of the Year Awardee right there.

4. In a world (and country) where CCTV cameras had become necessities, I couldn’t understand why the kidnappers never bothered to cover up their faces. They also kidnapped Carlo instead of the beautiful Cathy just because the former begged that he take her place instead. In the safe house, they were almost always drunk and careless and even allowed Carlo to pee behind closed doors. They were such bumbling kidnappers that I was wondering why they didn’t just choose a different occupation (I swear they could have been more effective and probably richer selling Royale whitening soap).

5. Did you see that viral video where a policeman was using two miniature (Matchbox?) cars to simulate an accident? I laughed so hard when something similar was shown in this movie. In that scene, Mr. Sandoval received a call from one of the kidnappers which prompted an investigator to turn on her tape recorder. Yes, she recorded the conversation like she was conducting an interview. I really hoped it wasn’t our third world version of tracing a call.

6. Speaking of, I wasn’t sure if I missed something but did they do a phone to phone call using an old Nokia model without a speaker function? How??

7. In a cast of good actors (that also included Bing Pimentel, Christopher de Leon, Ping Medina, and Manang Biring), the real standout was Alex Medina. Seriously, you could never go wrong with someone whose roles ranged from Bonifacio’s brother to a man possessed by a gay ghost.

8. I really loved the juxtapositions used here, from the birthday celebrations to the one where the two ladies were smoking. They were as effective as the ones done by Carlitos Siguion-Reyna in Inagaw Mo Ang Lahat Sa Akin.

9. It really felt like the material was modified in favor of the Star Magic talents. Kidnapping the son instead gave Enrique a lot of dramatic highlights (to be fair, he was able to acquit himself well) and at one point, Ricky’s character conveniently suffered a heart attack so that Shaina could have her shining crying moment while lugging around three duffel bags containing millions of pesos (still not sure why Mr. Sandoval agreed to endanger his daughter, though).

10. How would you know the kidnapper that grew a conscience? He was the one with the angel wings tattooed on his back, naturally.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

IMAGINE YOU & ME (Michael Tuviera, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Imagine You & Me:

1. Hi, I’m Json and I am a lapsed AlDub fan. (Hi, Json!) I joined the bandwagon right before a wall separated Alden and Yaya Dub in Kalyeserye and jumped off a little after their love team’s debut fizzled in My Bebe Love. Although I continued to receive updates from some die-hard friends, I was still pleasantly surprised to witness the newfound chemistry that they had been raving about. In this movie, AlDub had indeed moved on to being MaiChard and everything just felt right…and real.

2. Could someone explain Maine Mendoza’s appeal to the older crowd? Whenever I watched this type of rom-com, most of the shrieking would come from teenage girls (and directed at the male lead, like Daniel Padilla or James Reid), but I swear about half the people screaming and getting their fill of kilig in our screening were older women (even grandmothers!) rooting for Maine (as Gara). They could very well have been watching the newest Sampaguita or LVN picture.

3. I didn’t have high hopes when the movie started with “Sabi nila ang pag-ibig ay…” and then showed a montage of star-crossed lovers, especially since this quirky style and formula had been trademarked and more effectively used by Dan Villegas and Antoinette Jadaone, but the story progressed much better than expected (up until the dreary final moments).

The movie rested heavily on Maine’s tiny shoulders and she more than delivered, keeping the first thirty or so Alden-less minutes brisk, light, and fun to watch, whether she was getting dumped by her gay boyfriend, lamenting her supposedly cursed lovelife, or simply getting off her bike because the road was “matarik”. I probably laughed the most when she took a selfie with that pader (kasi wala naman talagang ganung pader sa Pilipinas haha!).

4. Elapsed time before the first advertisement: one minute-ish (Magnolia), probably the fastest one so far in recent memory. I wasn’t surprised to see a barrage of other products (including McDonald’s and O+) figure prominently in the story. In one scene where Alden Richards was supposedly drunk, I think there was even a hint of Bench underwear peeking under his jeans (or was I just too fixated on that area?).

5. I really liked how Alden (as Andrew) was always on the verge of tears in every scene (whenever he wasn’t being bugnutin). The movie was able to play on his strength as a dramatic actor and he could easily give John Lloyd Cruz (or even Judy Ann Santos) a run for best crier in local cinema. My favorite scene of his was the videoke session (“Wala ako sa kondisyon eh”, “Ano ‘to grand finals?”) ending with him crying over a sappy Tagalog love song. (Side note: Alden seems to be such a genuine person. I really get that strong vibe from him.)

6. “Mag-ingat ka sa mga lalaking mapuputi na ganyan. Mga pa-fall ang mga ‘yan.” – Kakai Bautista referring to…

(Yang tataaaaaaaa?)

7. There were so many gorgeous shots of Italy and I’m sure that a lot of people would start saving up just to experience grabbing the right breast of Juliet’s statue in Verona. (Hey, if I were to touch one again it might as well be for good luck.) I really liked that tracking shot that followed the pair going in and out of the adjacent rooms and veranda (overlooking a mountain view) with them barely missing each other.

8. Loved Jasmine Curtis since Transit and she was good here as the leukemia-stricken third party, but it felt like her character’s arc was unnecessary (besides, wouldn’t it have been more depressing if Gara was competing with a dead girl?). Actually, the entire dramatic third act including the last minute (out of nowhere) accident felt forced and didn’t earn the tears (similar to that rant of Gara after she was accused of stealing, “Oo mahirap lang ako…”; where did that come from, such a weird transition).

9. Carpool karaoke officially became a staple in local rom-coms. Although it was fun to see Gara sing April Boy Regino’s Di Ko Kayang Tanggapin, it was still hard to believe that Andrew would have that in his playlist. As one character said, “Makikilala mo ang isang tao sa song choices niya” and I could have sworn snobby Andrew was the Ed Sheeran type.

10. “Kaya naimbento ang glue, para kahit gaano kawasak ang isang bagay, pwede pa ring mabuo.” Sigh.

11. My favorite nods to AlDub:

• Gara during the car sing-along, “Eh sa gusto kong mag Dubsmash.” (Although it wasn’t technically a Dubsmash.)

• Gara asking, “Hindi ka nagulat na NBSB ako. Sinasabi mo bang panget ako?” (Wink wink, haters.)

• That Tamang Panahon reference.

• July 16, 2016 written on the lock that they left on Juliet’s wall (Happy anniversary! For real?).

12. If you’re a big believer of fate and destiny ala Romeo and Juliet (“Ang bawat coincidence ay nakatakda na”), then you would really enjoy this movie. I had my reservations since I belong in the “I create my own destiny” team.

13. Prepare your ears for that second sweet kiss (since the first happened while one of them was in a coma). You have been warned.

Also, this may not be a Marvel movie, but stay until the very end of the closing credits. Confirmed!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (Roland Emmerich, 2016)

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My notes on Independence Day: Resurgence:

1. Similar to a Michael Bay classic, I would always watch a Roland Emmerich movie with below zero expectations and so I entered the theater armed with a tub of popcorn and a large Pepsi ready for some mindless alien action and global destruction. Hey, this was the director who was fond of destroying national landmarks and gave us disaster (literally and figuratively) flicks such as the first Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012. How bad could this sequel be, right?

Well, Emmerich just took a dump in Hollywood, flung his excrements onscreen, and it resulted to this stinker that just cost me two hours of my precious life. Will Smith made the best decision of his career by not being involved with this dud.

2. One would think that twenty years after the original, the visual effects here would be mind-blowing. Unfortunately, they looked even worse than those used in the 1999 bomb Wing Commander (which reminded me, what ever happened to Freddie Prinze, Jr.?). Heck, even the ones in the original 1977 Star Wars were better. What was left to watch?

3. I first liked Bill Pullman back in his matinee idol days when he stole his brother-in-a-coma’s girlfriend Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping. Most of my female friends fell in love with him though as Christina Ricci’s father in Casper (and no, I wasn’t saying they had daddy issues). Seeing him now all wrinkled up with gray hair made me feel really old (although I think those female friends would now call him a DILF).

4. The lame attempts at humor were so bad that I was audibly groaning in my seat, although I (unintentionally) laughed out loud whenever the Asian commander gave the scientific names of different species. I could actually picture Kuya Kim saying things like, “At ang tawag sa alien na ito ay alienatus chararata hango sa salitang chararat na ang ibig sabihin ay panget na alien.”

5. I knew I was watching something terrible because:

• New characters were introduced an hour into the movie (more fillers, more fun!).

• My favorite scene was when Vivica A. Fox promised her son that she was not going to die and then plunged to her fiery death a few minutes later (what spoiler alert? I just saved you time and money).

• The end credits listed five screenwriters and they couldn’t even give one decent line to indie darling Charlotte Gainsbourg.

• I cared more about the dog’s safety over a bus full of human characters.

6. So wait, it took twenty years of planning on the aliens’ side and they still could not come up with a decent strategy to take over the world and prevent Liam Hemsworth from peeing before them? Well with that sneak peek, at least one of them died happy.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

I LOVE YOU TO DEATH (Miko Livelo, 2016)

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My notes on I Love You To Death:

1. As soon as Janice de Belen showed up on screen as Kiray Celis’ mother, all I could think of was the popular 80’s catchphrase (“Oh my god! Ang anak ni Janice!!”) that was used in the trailer of Regal Films’ cult classic Tiyanak and spawned the flop sequel Anak ni Janice.

Whether this was intentional or not, the movie’s best moments involved the running joke of her character’s brutal honesty towards her daughter’s physical appearance. She was the type of mom that would scream “Wag mo nga akong ginugulat anak!” upon seeing Kiray’s I-woke-up-like-this face or would recommend to fix her daughter’s bridal look by covering her face with a veil.

2. This brand of comedy harkens back to the early 90’s Rene Requiestas Pido Dida/Cheeta-eh era that I wasn’t surprised when his lookalike actually showed up. It made me miss this type of humor, especially in this day and age of political correctness. One simple punchline in his movies (say Michael and Madonna) would be Rene smiling and showing his missing teeth and it would be okay for people to laugh (“Ay bungi! Hahaha!”). If you’d do that now, a group of keyboard warriors would demand for respect to dentally-challenged people while a group of activists burn effigies of the President protesting the lack of funds for dentures and the proliferation of lowbrow comedy in local cinema. How times have changed.

3. The biggest problem of this movie was that there really wasn’t a lot going for it aside from making fun of Kiray’s looks. It shouldn’t be a surprise given that the movie’s supposed highlight extensively used in promotions was the kissing scene between her and Enchong Dee (wait, was it supposed to be icky because of her looks or because of his…never mind).

This reminded so much of Joe Dante’s Burying the Ex, another awful dark comedy about a spurned lover that rose from the dead to seek revenge. Even with torn limbs and blood spurting onscreen, it didn’t have much of a story either.

4. I didn’t bother taking note of the young supporting cast’s names because I hadn’t seen this much bad acting since the last season of Pinoy Big Brother: Teen Edition. I had so much fun seeing them get killed one by one because it would just mean one less irritating person to watch. Besides, I wasn’t even sure why Kiray was friends with them when they would openly mock her appearance and blatantly wish for her character’s harm (was it because she only owned one orange Prada bag that she used every single time, regardless if it clashed with her outfit?).

5. Burning questions:

• What bowling alley would allow kids to wear Jimmy Choo heels?

• What was up with Enchong’s hair? His short bangs reminded me of that scene in Dumb and Dumber when Jim Carrey placed a bowl over his head before getting a haircut.

• Why did these kids never grieve for their dead friends? After one of them got murdered in school, the next scene showed the gang in a salon. I guess the best way to really move on would be to get a Brazilian blowout and a mani-pedi. Yet in another scene, they were shown mourning…in a club.

6. Speaking of club, this was a Regal movie so I wasn’t surprised that there was an extended dance-off sequence. I should just be thankful that it wasn’t at a beach.

7. I never really understood the “mukha kang pantasa” joke, especially when the woman looked more like an eraser. And that #deathbypencil scene reeked too much of Zoolander 2.

8. Two obvious signs that their wedding was doomed: 1) she had her engagement ring on her middle finger, 2) her wedding gown had a sheer skirt that showed her boy shorts underneath.

9. In one scene, Kiray was kidnapped by her friends and had a sack thrown over her head. After it was removed, there were rice grains stuck on her face that made her complain, “Di nyo man lang tinanggal ang bigas sa sako!”. It was one of the few effortlessly funny gags that worked in this movie. I wish there were so much more because after this and Love is Blind, Kiray definitely deserved much better.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MA’ ROSA (Brillante Mendoza, 2016)

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My notes on Ma’ Rosa:

1. The film opened with Rosa (Jaclyn Jose) hoarding what seemed to be packs of Ri-Chee and other chichirya for her small sari-sari store. Similar to that weird sweet milk snack, Brillante Mendoza’s oeuvre would definitely be an acquired taste. As always, expect your senses to be assaulted by the headache-inducing shaky cam and the palpable stench of Manila’s esteros emanating from the screen. As a sucker for poverty porn (that had been getting a bad rap in the local indie scene) and Mendoza’s cinema verite style of filmmaking, I absolutely loved the entire experience. Ri-Chee, not so much.

2. I have always wondered why vendors give candy in lieu of actual change ever since I was given a sukli of Juicy Fruit gum. Is this just a Pinoy thing? (Also, my OCD self really hates butal.)

3. Much had been said about Jaclyn’s brilliant final scene (seriously, that had to be the saddest fishball moment ever), but I really loved how un-Jaclyn she was here. Before she went crazy over-the-top in her recent kabit movies and loony teleseryes, I usually associated her performance with the one parodied in Jeffrey Jeturian’s Tuhog where she talked in this seemingly lazy monotone like a drugged diva who didn’t really care much about performing.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved her type of non-acting acting, but in this film, her performance just felt more…alive. Every dialogue and curse word that came out of her potty mouth sounded true and I felt the dread of being part of her doomed family.

4. Is there a President Duterte biopic in the works? Please consider this Cannes-winning treasure. (Speaking of, I loved how timely this film was considering the recent drug busts happening everywhere in the metro.)

5. Who was the kid that played one of Rosa’s sons and looked like a cross between JM de Guzman and Rainier Castillo? Where have I seen him before?

6. Considering the grim subject matter, I enjoyed the little bits of humor thrown in whether it was Rosa asking the policemen for load to call her supplier, or her husband Nestor (Julio Diaz, effectively understated as always) getting mocked for looking good in a lieutenant’s uniform, or Racquel’s (Andi Eigenmann) description of her mom as someone who looked like her but with humongous breasts, and even the intentional (?) Pare Ko videoke homage to Mark Anthony Fernandez (as one of the corrupt cops).

7. When Rosa uttered the line, “Sir, hindi kami puwedeng makulong kasi mahirap lang kami”, I felt like I was in the middle of a fender bender with a reckless jeepney driver sheepishly scratching his head while looking at the damage that he caused. (Not being elitist, but still…)

8. I was fascinated with the treatment of the gay characters here. One was a young boy wearing his Little Miss Trouble shirt constantly called fag (in a non-derogatory Pinoy way, if there ever was such a thing) and being one of the boys/cops as they celebrated their extortion bounty over lechon manok and San Mig Light (that he was tasked to buy naturally) and later on caught trying to steal a suspect’s cellphone. Another one was a pony-tailed server with heavy make-up and a masculine voice (maybe he wasn’t gay and I was just being judgmental?) who blatantly lied about his boss’ whereabouts. The last was Allan Paule as a benefactor easily fooled by the whims of his needy and manipulative beh. Should this be considered progressive cinema or a sad reality of our society? (Or both?)

And for the curious minds, this was a Mendoza film with Allan Paule playing another gay stereotype so of course, there was a gay sex scene. (Oh, the irony!)

9. Do you still remember Maria Isabel Lopez stealing the scene on the Cannes red carpet with an Albert Andrada emerald dress? She did the exact same thing here while wearing a daster (I think) and spewing profanities and she was nothing short of amazing. This woman was the epitome of the word eksenadora.

10. If you had completely lost faith in our corrupt criminal justice system and think that policemen rank second on the list of most annoying reptiles in Malabon Zoo, this one definitely wouldn’t help change your mind. Reality sucks.

Rating: ★★★★★

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