TOP 10 MMFF MOVIES (2000-2016)




We had the right love at the wrong time ang peg.

Sa huli, magkakatabi ang mga kotse nila dahil sa sobrang traffic.

Magkakatitigan. Susunod ang matatamis na ngitian. Lalong lalakas ang chorus ng Somewhere Down the Road habang hindi gumagalaw ang mga sasakyan nila at lalong magiging sanhi ng traffic sa Parañaque.

Tatak Lamasan. #iconic

Rating: ★★★★☆

MOVIE REVIEW: THE GIFT (Sam Raimi, 2000)


If there was one thing that Being John Malkovich taught me, it was never to get inside other people’s crazy heads. I wouldn’t wish to be a psychic even if it could guarantee a possible win at the lotto (besides, it was mentioned here that this gift didn’t work for personal gains). It’d just be too scary (and dangerous) to know everyone’s dirty little secrets.

Queen Cate Blanchett was magnificent as always. I also liked Giovanni Ribisi doing his usual cuckoo bit, but the biggest surprise in this psychological thriller was Keanu Reeves (finally) delivering a decent performance.

As the biggest fan of Dawson’s Creek, I remember watching this for the first time and being appalled when Katie Holmes (aka virginal Joey Potter) made buyangyang her boobies, while the rest of the guys thanked Raimi for the gratuitous nudity.

Also, the bimpo made me cry. I’m a hopeless emotional mess.

Rating: ★★★★☆

MOVIE REVIEW: SA PUSOD NG DAGAT (Marilou Diaz-Abaya, 1998)


Pinoy-style magical realism set in the ’50s sprinkled with local myths and folklore that included a sirena that signalled bad luck, a woman that gave birth to a snake, the art of kulam, and an albularyo and his boundless knowledge on duwendes and masasamang espiritu, among others.

In one scene, Elizabeth Oropesa drank her own concoction of pampalaglag and furiously jumped around while punching her stomach. If this were set in the ’80s, she would have only needed one tablet of Cortal and a bottle of Coke to wash it down.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: ESKAPO (Chito Roño, 1995)


Our own version of (a real-life!) Prison Break. This is the part of history that I choose to believe in and no amount of revisionism can make me think otherwise.

You know you’re watching an effective thriller when you still get excited over something that 1) you’ve seen several times already, and 2) you very well know how the film will end.

My favorite moment though would have to be that brilliant aerial shot of Teresa Loyzaga as the Imelda Marcos tossing petals at the coffin of the late Don Eugenio Lopez. Pasabog as always in a scene rich with symbolism.

Rating: ★★★★☆



Marianne: “Can he love her? Can the soul really be satisfied with such polite affections? To love is to burn, to be on fire. Like Juliet, or Guinevere, or Eloise.”

Mrs. Dashwood: “Well, they met rather pathetic ends, dear.”

Marianne: “Pathetic? To die for love? How can you say so? What could be more glorious?”

I am such a Marianne whenever it comes to life and love, with romantic sensibilities and emotions always overtaking reason and restraint. And the fact that her character was played by the brilliant Kate Winslet (faney alert!) was just the cherry on top.

This is definitely one of my all-time favorite films from one of my all-time favorite directors. The divine English cast (Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Gemma Jones, Elizabeth Spriggs, Hugh Laurie, Imelda Staunton, etc.) was such a treat to watch.

Thompson won an Oscar for this smart and funny adaptation and if you’re still doubting her acting/writing talent, just Google her 1996 Golden Globe Best Screenplay speech.

Rating: ★★★★★

MOVIE REVIEW: BABE (Chris Noonan, 1995)



I always reference this classic film whenever someone would ask me why I do not eat lechon (or liempo, crispy pata, sisig, etc.) even if it’s far from the truth (I just don’t like the texture of pork). Besides, I love a good plate of bacon.

More than a lovely fable about every animal’s rightful place in the world, it’s an effective message on the values of respect, kindness, leadership, and even acceptance (Ferdinand the Duck wanted to be a rooster and Babe ended up as a sheepdog!).

I cried when Farmer Hoggett (aka Boss) bottle-fed Babe and started singing and dancing to cheer him up. I was obviously a mess by the time he delivered one of the most perfect lines to ever end a movie, “That’ll do, Pig. That’ll do.” Indeed.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published November 3, 2016.)

MOVIE REVIEW: FRAILTY (Bill Paxton, 2001)



If you were chosen by God to be His servant warrior in ridding the world of all evil, would you be willing to undertake the said task? As the rightful God’s Hand on earth, you would have the power to differentiate humans from demons (in sinful human form) just by mere touch. It would be your obligation to kill these wicked ones like a modern day, merciless, axe-wielding Abraham. Still up for it?

In this religious thriller, a father of two sons (played by the late Bill Paxton) believed that he was the Chosen One and converted himself into a vigilante without any hesitation. For the majority of this film, the audience was left guessing if he was suffering from hallucinations conjured by a mental disorder or if his visions from God were real. Even with a big reveal in its third act, it still presented a conundrum on whether or not he was really serving a vengeful God (who could say if it was also an unforgiving demon presenting itself as God?).

Matthew McConaughey as the narrator slash suspicious witness also delivered a great performance reminiscent of his future role in True Detective. It worked really well with the overall gothic feel.

Definitely one of the underrated films of the early 2000s.

Rating: ★★★★☆



It was hard to get over the fact that Christopher de Leon (with his pornstache) was going to prom. Also, there were just too many immature characters trapped in this noisy melodrama.

Sample dialogue:

“Ronald, virgin pa ba ako? Sagutin mo ako. Niloko mo ba ako? Damn you!”

As a kid, I remember watching my mom put make-up on and she would complete her look with a penciled dot on her upper lip. I think she was going for a Lorna Tolentino, but I was too scared to tell her that it looked more like a Bing Loyzaga.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆



Cinephiles would definitely mention the other showier works of Nora Aunor and the late Mario O’Hara on any Best Of list, but my favorite collaboration would have to be this underrated classic.

Everything about it was just distinctly Pinoy, from the unapologetic melodrama and soap opera caricatures to the literal and metaphorical filth and stench emanating from an urban compound.

I’m not a Noranian, but if anybody would declare that she’s the greatest actress in Philippine cinema and in a league of her own, I’d simply nod my head in agreement (and this coming from the son of a Vilmanian and the biggest Maricelian). As Babette, the ugly duckling (“Katulong ka ba nila?”) with a heart of gold, she was truly exceptional and empathetic.

My favorite characters here though would have to be the two extremely opposite women played by Anita Linda (as a washed up, delusional, materialistic starlet willing to barter her daughter Babette for a few pieces of daster) and Metring David (as the kooky but hardworking and patient mother to Bobby, a special needs man).

In one memorable scene, Bobby was quietly eating his lunch oblivious to all the chaos happening outside his house. Babette simply looked at him and said, “Mabuti ka pa. Mabuti ka pa.” I actually believed her.

Rating: ★★★★★