WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE 3D MOVIE (Barry Cook, Neil Nightingale, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie:

1. I feel like I’m reading a volume of Encyclopedia Britannica dedicated to dinosaurs with the movie pausing to explain each dino name.

2. This is the kind of movie you watch in class where you start zoning out, thinking of how to complete the materias in Final Fantasy VII.

3. I didn’t know dinosaurs communicated via mental telepathy. They keep talking but their mouths aren’t moving. I’m getting confused.

4. I just spent P220 to read Facebook and Twitter updates. Such a waste.

5. I therefore conclude that dinosaurs became extinct because they bored themselves to death.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 14, 2014.)

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THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (Renny Harlin, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Legend of Hercules:

1. The special effects were so bad that they used the same fake lion that mauled Eugene Domingo in Momzillas.

2. If Hercules is a demigod with extraordinary strength, then why can’t he kill his opponents with one blow? I know I’m overthinking. So bored.

3. Hercules wins a fight and the people start throwing confetti. That scene really made me laugh out loud.

4. Kellan Lutz has saucer-sized nipples. I remember this product I saw in Makati Cinema Square that can make one’s nipples rosy pink.

5. Lutz is a bad actor. As in Gerald Anderson level. And he loves making tampisaw in the batis. He should have Mother Lily’s magic kamison.

6. Why do people keep shouting their lines in these Greek/Roman movies? It’s like the other soldiers or townspeople are deaf. Laging galit din.

7. Stay for the end credits. I think they used live goats on the soundtrack. I have no words.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 11, 2014.)

GHOST WIFE (Mate Yimsomboon, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ghost Wife:

1. If you still hadn’t seen the film that pushed me into (temporarily) becoming a sacristan with the thought that my holiness would shield me from a demonic possession, then let this be your nth reminder to watch the Akin ang Walang Diyos episode of Lovingly Yours, Helen: The Movie. I swear I had never seen a scarier exorcism which resulted to a lot of sleepless nights (not even Linda Blair’s twisting head or the contortionist moves of Emily Rose could even come close).

This was also the infamous source of the 80’s urban legend that an evil lamang-lupa fell in love with young superstar Julie Vega while filming that led to a mysterious illness and her eventual demise.

2. I was greatly reminded of that creepy story during this movie’s opening sequence where a shaman (wearing the biggest Buddha beads so you’d know he was mystical) was seemingly whipping a possessed child (was he using a buntot pagi?). But then the girl started screaming at the camera revealing her obvious blue-grayish contact lenses and I just couldn’t stop laughing from thereon. Was it supposed to be scary? This Thai horror flick was definitely no Shutter.

3. Completely off-topic but I found it really cute that the male students still wore short shorts as part of their high school uniform. I remember wanting to wear the khaki pants back in Grade 6 (next to circumcision and hair growing in every part of your body, it was a sign that you were one of the big boys). And now I realized that shorts were just so much more comfy, especially if you were always close to peeing yourself during a Calculus exam. To paraphrase Venus Raj, “I love it because it’s so comfortable to use and it’s very, very flowy.”

4. It was fascinating to see some cultural differences right off the bat. The teens here (who looked like Thai versions of Janella Salvador and Marlo Mortel) were more open to sex. When Thai Janella’s mom learned that her young daughter got pregnant, she took her to an abortion clinic instead of forcing a shotgun on Thai Marlo’s head (“Panagutan mo ang anak kohhh!”). 

One common factor though was that the Thai neighbors also lived for the latest chismis. Nothing wrong with being well-informed.

5. The abortion scene here would put the one in Hinugot sa Langit to shame. The quack doctors looked like they were actually pulling a baby rhinoceros out of the poor girl’s vajayjay. Did it really need that much heaving, and pulling, and grunting?

6. Before the Buddha beads-wearing shaman, Thai Janella’s mom sought the help of a female exorcist who sported heavy bangs and brought a trusty sling bag (what did that contain really? White Flower and a tin can of mints?). She ended up getting attacked by a medicine cart and was never seen again.

7. Speaking of urban legends, this was supposedly a modern day retelling of Nang Nak, the story of a husband who returned to his wife and child not knowing that they had been dead for months. This version was full of the usual horror movie tropes mostly taken from The Eye (the hallway scares, the ghost in the elevator) and none of them were scary.

When the baby was finally revealed as a tiyanak, I was laughing too much in my seat while wishing that Janice de Belen actually made a cameo. Imagine that reunion. Oh my god, ang anak ni Janice!!

8. I really wasn’t sure why dead Thai Janella was mad at her neighbors, except for being chismosa. Did she want them to keep her death a secret? Or was she just as annoyed at their sheer stupidity? After fearing for their lives and believing that their tenement was haunted, they stormed into the landlady’s office and demanded that she get rid of the ghost.

Yes, gusto nilang palayasin ang multo dahil laging nanggugulo. Hey chismosas, a scary ghost would still be much better than a drunk neighbor singing Itchyworms’ Beer for the tenth time at 3 freakin’ AM.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

BOY TOKWA: LODI NG GAPO (Tony Reyes, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Boy Tokwa: Lodi ng Gapo:

1. Anak ng tokwa! I was hoping for a palate cleanser after the mediocrity (to put it lightly) of the recently concluded Metro Manila Film Festival, but I ended up with this problematic garbage (to put it lightly) as my very first movie of 2019. Which shouldn’t be a surprise since I started 2018 with the stinker Haunted Forest and ended it with Jack Em Popoy: The Puliscredibles. Why break tradition, right?

2. The movie opened with a disclaimer that it was inspired by a true story, but any similarities to actual persons or events were purely coincidental. Was that supposed to be a joke? Like the opening scene with the announcement of the arrival of Cebu Pacific flight 5JX while a clip of (I think) a non-Cebu Pacific plane was landing at Clark International Airport?

3. The cast of young unknowns (half of which looked like they were part of the Sotto clan, since Tito Sotto was a producer) were just awful. Everyone talked like they were communicating with dogs that lived three blocks away from SM Southmall. The ones that played the local relatives had an American twang even if they were just explaining what ukay-ukay meant. One had the unfortunate task of delivering this line: “Lodi ng Gapo? Petmalu! Boom panes!”. Like, eww.

4. Jose Manalo played the titular role who was some sort of Robin Hood in 1940’s Olongapo. He would con American soldiers into buying overpriced tuko (gecko?) or used smelly panties and then donate the money to the needy. He also cheated them a lot in poker games, but was supposedly just doing a heroic deed. As one character (Joey Marquez) described him, “Hindi siya katulad ng ibang con man na walang puso. May moral standards siya at hindi tuma-target ng mga Pinoy.” Eh di wow!

(In hindsight though, anybody willing to pay 250 dollars for funky-smelling underwear probably deserved their fate.)

5. The iconic Vangie Labalan was Mommy Tokwa. Nothing follows.

6. It’s already 2019 and the sources of humor here included a stutterer (“Pina-kiki-kiki-kiki-usapan ko pa…”), a Chinese character named Tsing Tsong Atsay (Epy Quizon) who used an abacus to compute his poker winnings, and a joke about a maliit na unan (unano, of course!). Woke social media… attack!!

7. Tito Sen, what happened to the movie’s budget? Why were the same American soldier extras and pokpok chorus walking in the background in every Olongapo scene? Why was a green screen used in the Guam tourist spots montage? Why didn’t they even change the name of Kandi Towers in Pampanga when it was supposed to substitute for a hotel in Guam?

On the other hand, four different actresses played Daughter Tokwa and yet they looked nothing like each other.

8. My favorite moment in the movie was when Boy Tokwa was abandoned by his wife and he started reading her goodbye letter. The voiceover screamed, “I AM LEAVING YOU BOY! YOU ARE NEVER SEEING US AGAIN!”. I imagined that the letter was also written in all caps.

Immediately after, Boy had a walling scene while wailing, “Juskopo, anong kasalanan ko?” and then the camera focused on an altar of religious images. Buti hindi nagsalita ang mga rebulto ng, “Anak, nanloko ka kasi ng mga ‘Kano. Karma yan.”

9. Sample dialogue that made me fart in my seat:

• Boy Tokwa courting his future wife with this bagung-bagong pick-up line: “Remember M, remember E, put them together, remember ME!”

• Millennial apo after the con man story: “In this house, we stan a generous low-low!”

• One of the Sotto kids on the phone with his mom (Karel Marquez): “Sometimes I like talking to Siri more than talking to you!”

• Girlfriend to one of the Sotto kids: “The stars shine so bright, but if you take a closer look, they burn deep inside… just like you.”

Repeat after me: Anak ng tokwa!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

HAUNTED FOREST (Ian Loreños, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Haunted Forest:

1. This movie is shaping up to be one of the worst movies of 2017 so I will just provide a blow-by-blow so that you can all save your money. Obviously, spoilers ahead.

2. So the first twenty minutes consisted of a gagamba running after a taong grasa played by Jerald Napoles. As the resident baliw, he was blamed for the death of a woman hanging from a tree even if obvious naman na hindi niya kaya magpulupot ng thick branches ng puno (can anyone?).

3. Raymart Santiago and his bitchy daughter Jane Oineza went to the province for vacation (or prolly to do some soul-searching) after the death of his cancer-stricken wife. They stayed at the house of Maris Racal and Beverly Salviejo (and it’s a mystery how she’s related to them).

4. All the women in town are fond of wearing white kamison while strolling the haunted forest at night. Yes, this is a Mother Lily-produced movie.

5.

Maris: Di naman ako mahilig sa social media kaya ok lang kahit walang signal sa bahay.

Maris after looking at Jane’s iPhone: Uy, add mo naman ako diyan!!

6. Joey Marquez plays a cop with a habit of hitting suspects at will. I’d like to say that his character’s trapped in a Pinoy 90s sitcom, but he very much seems to fit right in the current police force.

7. Ok, mukhang gorilla yung killer.

8. Sample conflict…

Maris: Naku, naiwan ang bawang! Paano ako maggigisa nito?

9. Sumakay si Jane sa dimples ni Jameson Blake para balikan ang naiwang bawang. Kaso naaubutan sila ng malakas na ulan. Walang silong kaya basang-basa sila. Sabay labas si Jameson ng panyo.

Jameson: Eto, punasan na lang kita.

Seryoso??!

10. Kanina umihi sina Joey at Raymart sa gilid ng kalsada. Ngayon naman umiihi si Jane sa damuhan. Eh kaya kayo minumulto kasi di kayo marunong magpasintabi sa mga nuno. Mga bastos!

11. One sequence looked like the director was just having fun with a Snapchat filter. Hihihi!

12. Hirap ng role ni Jane. Her character fainted for the fourth time already. On the other hand, it’s the third time I’m trying not to fall asleep.

13. I probably would have been more scared of Myrtle Sarrosa’s dead character if she didn’t look like she was wearing the wrong shade of foundation and just forgot to brush her hair.

14. So the sitsit was supposed to eat Jane, but changed his mind when he saw Raymart. May sensual wagging of the tongue involved pa. Should we consider this as a step forward for equal representation of the LGBTQ community in local cinema?

15. So ayun na nga dinukot na ng sitsit ang gusto niyang dukutin kay Raymart. Tegi.

16. Everyone knew the tree where the sitsit lived but the townspeople decided to do a prayover around it instead. Nobody bothered to burn or cut it down. Until today.

17.

Jane to sitsit: Hoy! Magpakita kita!

After magpakita…

Everyone: Takbooooooo!!

Tengene.

18. Ayan happy ending na for Jane. Masaya siya kasi kahit napatay ng sitsit ang tatay niya nagka-lovelife naman siya sa probinsiya. Hindi na nga naman masama.

The end. Leche.

19. Ay buti di ako agad umalis. May mid-credits sequence. Buhay pa ang sitsit at lumipat sa katawan ng bangkero. Ready for a sequel kaso mukhang flop. Paano na?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 3, 2018.)

THROUGH NIGHT & DAY (Veronica Velasco, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Through Night and Day:

1. I used to have an Entertainment Weekly subscription when the magazine only cost around Php100 (it’s now priced at Php400!!). One of my favorite film critics there was Lisa Schwarzbaum and although we would usually have opposing views (she had the audacity to call Fight Club “dumb” and even gave it a D grade), I enjoyed her brutal (read: honest) opinions.

I was reminded so much of her Pay It Forward review which she described as a “shameless cliché of emotional and physical damage”. I couldn’t understand her hate back then because I was a sobbing mess by the end of that film. After watching this JaMill in Iceland travelogue turned manipulative tearjerker, I finally got it. Some movies would simply throw in a last minute trope (an accident, death, cancer) that appealed to the most basic sentiments and hope that the audience would equate their reaction of crying to quality. As a sucker for three hankie weepies who would bawl my eyes out while watching a Jollibee Christmas ad, I have had enough of this type of emotional manipulation.

2. The movie started off okay as it followed this annoying couple (Alessandra de Rossi as Jen and Paolo Contis as Ben) who had been together for thirteen years deciding to finally have an out of the country trip. It was supposedly the real test of their relationship (oh just wait until you guys actually lived together) because travelling would bring out the worst in people (as seen in every season with couples in The Amazing Race). Their country of choice was Iceland probably because it was a new destination for a Pinoy romcom and not a lot of people saw the fake-looking Aurora Borealis in the Piolo Pascual-Yen Santos snoozefest Northern Lights: A Journey To Love.

They rented a van without any insurance (a sign of an impending accident), complained about the exorbitant food prices (a trip to a local 7-11 cost them almost Php4k), provided Kuya Kim trivia about the place (zero crime rate in the country), and bickered and fought and made up, and bickered and fought and made up, and bickered and fought and made up.

You know how when you’re single and you would simply glare at these irritating naglalandian couples in the corner of Starbucks while bitterly thinking “Maghihiwalay din kayo”? Exact same feeling. After the nth time of watching them fight over the pettiest things, I wished that they would just head home and never see each other again.

3. I must have wished really hard because they did break up over a lost passport and a missed return flight. She was fire and he was ice (their words, not mine) and they just weren’t MFEO. I was already good with that ending (hey, a one hour travelogue for a Php190 movie ticket in Festival Mall wasn’t all bad) but then it decided to jump three years later with Ben already engaged to another girl and Jen all bald and suffering from a brain tumor. Why? Why? Whyyyyy??

If two people weren’t meant to be, why should guilt be induced to prove that there wasn’t any love lost between them? Jen’s affliction was even used as a reason for her blatant irrationality (although it still didn’t support why she chose to wear her engagement ring on her middle finger just because of a bad manicure). Should I feel guilty about that as well?

4. Even in her bad films, I couldn’t remember Alessandra de Rossi ever giving a terrible performance. She was always this sensitive actress able to transcend any material given to her (even crap like Spirit of the Glass). I couldn’t say the same for her work in the first two-thirds of this movie. Pabebe acting just didn’t suit her well (no to baby talk and girls trying to be cute by saying “Plith”).

Plus, she looked far too intelligent and decent to be groping tomatoes in a farm for a photo op and even spitting on the ground and contaminating all the pananim. After getting dumped over that missed flight, Jen asked “Dito talaga sa Iceland? Dito mo sasabihin na ayaw mo ako pakasalan? Kung saan ang ganda ng sky?” Huh?? And she even found humor in the situation when she screamed “I will stay here in my country! Not this country. This is not my country!”. I felt really, really bad for Alex.

Even worse, she shaved her head for this mess (fyi, she was a producer of this movie with a story and concept credit so it must be a passion project worthy of a buzz cut). Brave move, yes, but let’s not forget that Demi Moore also won a Worst Actress Razzie for her shaved head work in G.I. Jane.

Side note: That scar on the back of her head looked like a strip of Play Doh. Eek!

5. Paolo Contis fared a bit better because he always had this pilyo, pang-asar vibe even during his Ang TV days that was apt for the character of Ben. Most people would probably be surprised that he could cry a river (and believe me, there were enough tears in that final thirty minutes to solve our country’s Maynilad problems). Nothing new though if you were a huge fan of that Aga Muhlach-Dayanara Torres fantasy Basta’t Kasama Kita.

6. My favorite part of this movie was when Ben complained that Jen wasn’t “decently” dressed and since she was a devoted Christian saving herself for marriage, it was a problem for him not to feel horny beside her (“Wala namang utak ‘to. Tanga ‘to eh!” referring to his shrinkage-proof member that wasn’t affected at all by the freezing weather.) I immediately (sinfully) thought, “Well, maybe she should pray over his erection”. And she did. Bwahahaha!

(It was also interesting to note that Jen completely forgot her Christian ways after getting sick by forcing herself on Ben and basically trying to covet another person’s jowa.)

7. My least favorite part was when BenJen did a duet and sang the entire version of Gary Valenciano’s “I Will Be Here” while sobbing like there was no tomorrow (okay, bad pun because there really was no tomorrow for Jen).

I hated it because: 1) I had always been averse to that song ever since it was played in a good friend’s wake, 2) all the crying felt like one of those acting workshops where a mentor would make you remember the saddest memory and force you to weep for thirty minutes as a sign that you could act and cry on cue, and 3) they sang an entire song. Again, why? To give the audience enough time to cry along with them? Repeat after me: emotional manipulation.

Side note: The dark humor toward the end of the movie (the fake dying, Jen’s sudden outbursts, etc.) felt really off, too. The hilariously robotic delivery of that nurse about the re-occurrence of Jen’s condition didn’t help, either.

8. How did I know that I was completely unaffected by all the sadness onscreen? While the couple was singing that entire (it had to be noted, yet again) death song, my brain was focused on the fly perched on Joey Marquez’s left shoulder. Malungkot kaya yung langaw mag-isa?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

CLASS OF 2018 (Charliebebs Gohetia, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Class of 2018:

1. Seeing the Goin’ Bulilit slash Star Circle Quest kids all grown up in a reunion movie made me feel so much older. I was part of the Class of ‘97 and every year we were tasked to stage these plays for the batch competition (a prison drama called Condemned, a reinterpretation of Florante at Laura, and excerpts from Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo). I was greatly reminded of them while watching this movie (para kasi siyang high school production na lahat ng students sa class pinilit ni Ma’m na sumali kahit konti lang talaga sa kanila ang marunong umarte; sadly, mukhang row 4 sa acting workshops ang mga ‘to).

2. As soon as “February 1986” was flashed onscreen, I knew that this genre mash-up would try to be politically-relevant. Characters spouted platitudes like “Basta galing sa taas ang utos, sinusunod n’yo na lang kahit walang dahilan” or familiar quotable quotes like “I invoke my right to self-incrimination”, anti-fascism messages were spray-painted on the walls, and the biggest reveal in the end was that Sharlene San Pedro (Ada) actually played Jover Laurio.

3. So Ada maintained a blog called The Dark Side of Things where she posted school chismis and blind items (wait, shouldn’t she be Fashion Pulis instead?) complete with pictures of creepy clay dolls that she made for each of her subjects. It was very much like an online Burn Book for public consumption.

Ada probably should have spent less time in front of the computer because I noticed that she was using the extra large fonts on her cellphone. Also, she was lactose-intolerant and therefore hated pastillas. We wouldn’t be friends in high school.

Side note: If there was one thing that I liked here, it was the opening credits with the vandalized yearbook-type photos.

4. Fe GingGing Hyde won an Urian Best Actress award in 2011 for Sheika. As the terror teacher (or principal, didn’t matter) here, she was all kinds of awful. It was already bad enough that she got saddled with a caricature who was expected to blow her top off in every scene, but her shrill performance only made it worse. She was only overshadowed by that scientist actress at the start of the movie whose absurd reactions kept me thinking if she was also infected by the zombie virus.

5. Pop culture references aside from Mean Girls included the freshly ripped-off decapitation scene of Hereditary, the flashsideways of Lost that played after every person’s death, a pilit Temptation Island quote, a Kimmy Dora rapping duo (subtitled Tweedledee and Tweedledum), and current mobile games (“Mega Kill!”). Even the entire twist of the Super Soldier program was also vaguely familiar (it reminded me of The Cabin in the Woods, but I’m sure there was another similar movie).

Oh and in one scene, a zombie student shouted “Wakanda forever!” inside a bus before he terrorized his classmates. Just the kind of inanity expected from this.

6. For a part-horror movie, there was no sense of danger at all. Na-hostage na sila at ang iba naging zombies with raccoon eyes pero yung mga characters parang naglalaro lang. Puro kaartehan at patawa.

Kiray Celis (Venus) to kidnapper: “Ouch! Don’t touch me. Eww!” Seryoso??

But nothing here really made a lot of sense. In one scene, a manyak guy was accidentally gored by a protruding rusty pole. It ended with class clown slash babaeng bakla Kristel Fulgar (Princess) asking, “Ano mag-walk out na lang ba kayo? Hindi man lang ba tayo mag-moment?” Huh??

In another, a girl hugged her zombie boyfriend (“Babe kumalma ka na please. Tama na ha…) like she was pacifying a stubborn puppy. She probably thought that love was the cure to everything. Ayun, sinaksak sya sa likod and eventually died which was actually how all love stories ended.

7. Burning questions:

• Where did Ada learn how to handle heavy firearm? And why did she use her machine gun to destroy the CCTV cameras but only made tusok-tusok movements when the zombies attacked her?

• One of the mean girls plunged several floors down to her death and her equally mean girl friend pretended to frame her corpse and said “Nice shot!”. Another girl got stabbed on the chest, but she had enough time to take a selfie before dying. Were these supposed to be funny in a “millennials are so shallow haha!” way?

• Yung isang character natuluan ng ihi. He just removed his shirt and continued eating chips. Medyo baboy. Who was that actor? (Asking for a friend.)

• Mauuna pa ba magka-kissing scene si Sharlene kesa kay Sarah G? (Seriously though, malakas ang kilig ng NashLene. A future Black Sheep rom-com, perhaps?

8. Best part yung may tumakbong totoong daga from one end of the screen to the other (kasama ba sa bayad yan Southmall Cinemas?). Sabagay san pa ba lalapit ang daga kundi sa basura.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

NAKALIMUTAN KO NANG KALIMUTAN KA (Fifth Solomon, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Nakalimutan Ko Nang Kalimutan Ka:

1. Whoever said that forgiveness was the hardest part of a breakup probably never lost thirty pounds and developed gastritis from crying all night and skipping meals for an entire month. No, forgiveness was relatively easy because it would usually come after the acceptance phase. The real challenge for anybody mending a broken heart would be trying to forget those damned (happy) memories where every littlest thing meant something and always re-opened the floodgates of pain and hurt.

Where even a tiny flying ipis would remind you of the happy and fun times you had with your ex and without realizing it, you’d miss the person again and start questioning what you did wrong and why your love story never worked out the way it should and if you could have done better as a partner even if in reality it was the hinayupak’s fault but you still love the person and that was still your hinayupak and huhuhu another thirty pounds lost after a month.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just easily wipe our memories clean very much like clearing our browser history after visiting PornHub?

2. In this lowest form of a Pinoy hugot movie (I swear it was one hundred minutes of hugot lines, hugot jokes, and hugot poems), Jaz (a game Alex Gonzaga) decided to literally change her heart to get over her ex-fiancé Migs (Vin Abrenica, an Abrenica who could act!). Not really sure how a heart replacement surgery in an abandoned warehouse called NSKTN Klinika (Room 143, of course!) could make her forget but at least it wouldn’t be too obvious that it was a complete rip-off of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Hmm, Walang Hanggang Sikat ng Araw ng Walang Bahid na Isip (thanks Google Translate!) actually sounded ripe for a spoken word poetry session.

3. This probably would have been forgivable if it was at least funny, but it was just a series of repetitive and corny jokes. In one scene, Jaz was applying for a job and when her interviewer (Ricci Chan) asked her to tell something about herself, her groan-worthy reply was “Di ko na nga alam eh. Di ko na alam kung sino ako magmula nung iniwan niya ako.” And when he followed it up with “Tell me your weaknesses”, she answered back with “Siya. Siya ang weakness ko.” I couldn’t believe I actually paid good money for this when the same brand of humor was available online for free on the VinCentiments Facebook page.

4. I actually felt bad that Alex wasn’t asked to do much except bawl her eyes out whenever she would hear the song Let Me Be the One (the “H”-filled version, “Shomebodehh told meh yhou were leavuhhhrnn…”). You’d be better off rewatching her amusing vlogs instead (especially the ones with newest Internet Sensation Mommy Pinty).

Sayang because Alex did have some nice chemistry with Vin. It probably helped that he was more than just a walking six-pack. I knew he could act (and sing!) ever since his Artista Academy days.

5. Not surprised with the abundant Nagaraya and Happy Cup product placements. But FrontRow?

6. In one scene, a depressed Jaz was shown in full baliw mode celebrating an anniversary with a teddy bear after suffering from UTI (Umibig Tapos Iniwan). It was played for laughs but that moment actually made me sad thinking of the craziest things that people had done while nursing a heartache. Pro tip: Never ever use muriatic acid as a chaser for your Empi Light.

7. More gasgas hugot moments:

• Kung bagay ka, ano ka? – Sana piso kasi ang piso kapag nalaglag, dinadampot. Samantala ako nahulog na, di pa sinalo.

• Kung pipili ka ng lugar, san mo gusto? – Sa sementeryo para ibaon ko na feelings ko sa kanya.

• Kung mahihiram mo ang time machine ni Doraemon, anong babalikan mo? – Babalikan ko siya kasi sa kanya lang naman ako masaya.

Grabe bakit di na lang ‘to ginawang hugot quote book?

And if that wasn’t bad enough, they even included two lengthy spoken word poetry scenes. One had an animated Juan Miguel Severo talking about a pillow soaked in tears. I think it was meant to be poignant, but all it made me feel was head over to the nearest Tempur.

(Side note: The end credits mentioned that Antoinette Jadaone served as a script consultant for this movie. Seriously??)

Kakalimutan ko na lang na pinanood ko pa ‘to. Now where’s that damn clinic to help me forget?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

THE LOOKOUT (Afi Africa, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Lookout:

1. It must be true that one couldn’t really appreciate good films without experiencing the bad. In effect, Cinemalaya also wouldn’t be complete and considered an annual triumph if not for misguided, execrable fare like Amor Y Muerte, Asintado, The Diplomat Hotel, or last year’s infamous Ang Guro Kong ‘Di Marunong Magbasa.

Keeping up with tradition, this year’s festival delivered another knockout clunker so inane (insane?) that it should be deemed a cult classic twenty years from now. It had the makings of the worst (read: best, but actually worst) kind of Elwood Perez film that I even wondered if the name Afi Africa was just a pseudoynm of the said director (fact check: no, completely different person).

A gay hired killer out to seek revenge on his childhood abusers? Compelling stuff. The terrible execution though made this one a hilariously campy “film mwah” (I missed you, Belinda Bright!).

2. The opening scene alone that revealed the highlights of the movie was a sure sign of impending doom, er… I meant the tremendous enjoyment that this one would bring. It reminded me of the flash cuts used in my favorite TV series that I actually expected to the hear the words “Previously on Scandal…” as soon as it started.

3. Why was this movie rated PG when the first fifteen minutes alone featured a graphic anal sex scene? It also included oral sex, a threesome in a tub, a lengthy rape scene, gratuitous nudity, and excessive violence and profanity. How did this elude the prudes of MTRCB?

I wouldn’t be complaining if I wasn’t seated two rows behind a boy (barely ten) who had to hear the line “Tangina nakikipagkangkangan ako!”. Somebody should be made accountable for this. (FYI, I watched this again on a different day and it still had the same rating. I asked the cinema personnel and they said they couldn’t do anything to restrict younger viewers.)

4. I made the right decision of staying away from the good seats (crowd) because I just couldn’t control my laughter in several odd moments. In one scene, George/Timothy/Lester (Andres Vasquez, a budget Wendell Ramos) started his voiceover with “Ito ang The Kingdom…” referring to a high-end, exclusive membership club where rich patrons could buy any of the topless boys in a swimming pool (Did they stay there all day waiting for customers? Imagine the pruning and shrinkage!). He was offered a drink (“Zhenk yhu zho match!”) and then proceeded to select (“Dat guy ober der”) Travis (Jay Garcia, as a human goat), who actually had a slo-mo shot of him coming out of the water like he was shooting one of those Instagram Vitamin Sea pictures. G/T/L then stretched his arms wide open while slowly saying “Welcahhhm to mayhhhh layhhhf!” and at that point I was already crying because my appendix shot out of my ass.

In another, a group of government operatives were discussing the crime scene and Grace/Monica (Elle Ramirez) went through an entire litany of bullet trajectories and how the killer made an elaborate setup to mislead the investigators. Their leader (Efren Reyes, Jr.) then asked “So may identity na kayo ng assailant?” to which a constipated-looking G/M replied, “Unfortunately sir, no.” Bwahahahaha! If only this was a satire on the current state of our nation.

Also, don’t even get me started on that “Tao o ibon? *flipped coin* Kiss mo ako sa leeg” scene. My nebulizer’s not ready.

5. I hadn’t even touched on these words of wisdom that I had difficulty transcribing because I was just cracking up really hard. Some examples:

• On the power of words: 

“Ang ‘I LOVE YOU’ ay mula sa puso. Ang ‘MAHAL KITA’ ay mula sa puso tagos hanggang kaluluwa.” 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

(Don’t get me wrong. This actually made a lot of sense given that words in the vernacular would have more impact, but you really needed to hear the clunky delivery to understand why people spontaneously laughed during this scene.)

• On the sanctity of body parts:

“Ang labi ko ay para lamang sa babaeng mamahalin ko at ang pwet ko ay bilang respeto sa pagkatao ko at pagkalalaki ko.”

• On mutualism in relationships:

“Sa tingin mo gusto ko na chupain kita at kantutin mo ako?”

• On Melanie Marquez as a literary genius:

“Ang tao ay parang libro. Hindi mo napipili ng dahil lang sa cover kundi dahil sa laman nito.”

• On love computations:

“Alam mo ba ang ibig sabihin ng mahalaga? Mahal + alaga.”

6. To be fair, I really liked the dingy setting of G/T/L’s apartment with his room overlooking the LRT.

Yayo Aguila (as the abused mother) also had some fine moments whenever she wasn’t required to overact like crazy.

7. Even after watching this twice, these were some of my burning questions:

• Why did Rez Cortez’s abusive character have to be raped by two twinks? Would it really have served as a punishment for him considering that he was a child molester?

• Where could we buy those voice changers used here as an app in a Nokia phone? (“Sino ka?” “Isang kaibigan. O pwede ring kaaway.” HAHAHAHAHA!)

• If the movie wanted a big reveal regarding the identities of the siblings, why did they have to own matching little black booklets?

• Was the excessive fascination with removing/putting on underwear done by several characters a symbolism for something? Did G/T/L really have to take a shower wearing black briefs? I thought he had no “quangs showing his body”?

• What were the tilted shots for? Was this an homage to American Horror Story?

• What was the purpose of G/T/L saving that crying young girl? Was it to show that a ruthless killer like him had a soft spot, too? But whatever happened to that girl after the said scene?

8. Overheard after the screening: “Ang tulis ni Travis natuhog ang magkapatid!” HAHAHAHAHA!

9. That ending!! I couldn’t wait for part 2 to learn more about Jeffrey Santos’ character who showed up at the very last minute just to dramatically unzip his hoodie and give a sinister look, like he was in possession of the diary that contained the deepest, darkest secrets of Mara Clara.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

JACQUELINE COMES HOME: THE CHIONG STORY (Ysabelle Peach, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Jacqueline Comes Home: The Chiong Story:

1. Back in October of 2012, I was able to watch this little-known documentary called Give Up Tomorrow about the controversial 1997 rape and murder case of Cebu City’s Chiong Sisters. It worked very much like a true crime drama (ala Netflix’s Making a Murderer or the Serial podcast) that presented convincing arguments on the wrongful conviction of Paco Larrañaga (and the rest of the Chiong Seven) and doubled as an exposé on the filthy Philippine justice system. Only a handful of us in that theater watched as a corrupt and broken system destroyed the life of an innocent young man.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the resurgence of this film (made free) online because of the promotions for Jacqueline Comes Home (if there was one good thing that came out of this exploitative massacre movie, it was that at least it generated renewed interest on the case and started a public outcry). GUT had a clear agenda though so I had always wondered if there were facts or details omitted to establish a more foolproof argument. The Chiongs (especially Mrs. Chiong) were also portrayed in such a bad light that it was hard for the public to sympathize with them even if they were victims themselves.

JCH really piqued my interest because this was supposed to be their version of the story and I wanted to see if they had any other pasabog up their sleeves. It was their chance to come up with a reply to GUT’s incredibly well-made presentation of evidence after solid evidence. Sadly, JCH’s version (or as the disclaimer at the start of the movie would like to call it, “loosely inspired by a retelling of a tragic story”) chose to focus on ghostly apparitions and the Lord directly communicating (ala Big Brother) to Mrs. Thelma Chiong (Alma Moreno). (No, He didn’t ask if she had reservations on the RH Law.) There wouldn’t be enough facepalm emojis to describe this tragedy.

2. I hadn’t fully recovered yet from Carlo J. Caparas’ Angela Markado and yet there I was on the very first day of screening watching an exact copycat of his notorious 90’s massacre movies this time directed by his daughter Ysabelle Peach. If you had seen all of his infamous subtitled classics from Vizconde Massacre (God, Help Us!) to The Marita Gonzaga Rape Slay (In God We Trust!), this one would be incredibly familiar. It had:

• the requisite beach scene to establish a happy family whose lives would be ruined by a senseless crime

• a group of despicable villains armed with cartoonish maniacal laughs (in this version, “Sonny” was played by Ryan Eigenmann, invoking the spirit of 90’s John Regala, and he was tasked to spout words like “pendejo!” and “hijo de puta!” out of the blue just in case people forget that he was actually playing “Paco”

• a confusing interweaving timeline

• the ghosts of the victims asking for justice (in one scene, Marijoy Chiong played by Ultimate Kakaibabe Donnalyn Bartolome stood at the foot of the ravine where she was pushed to her death as a badly-bruised ghost trying to catch a bouquet of flowers thrown by her living boyfriend, eek!)

• gratuitous rape and violence misdirected to elicit sympathy (where one of the rapists kept screaming, “Sharing is caring!”)

• and, it wouldn’t be complete without Joel Torre (as Mr. Dionisio Chiong) overacting in the worst possible way to show immense grief at the death of a loved one (see also: Lipa Massacre, Lord Deliver Us From Evil!).

3. I was surprised that Meg Imperial played the bespectacled Jacqueline Chiong since she looked more like Marijoy (and vice-versa). The latter role also required somebody who could effectively convey fear (in this version, Sonny/Paco was a stalker) and no amount of lip-quivering and nail-biting made me think for a second that Donnalyn was genuinely threatened. She even had to verbally state multiple times that she was scared (“Nakakatakot! Iba sya tumingin Ate!”). Hala paulit-ulit?

Side note: One of the most disgusting things I read online stated something like “Why would a Spanish mestizo like Paco actually court and rape an unattractive Chiong sister when he could pay to have any beautiful woman he wanted?” Seryoso?? Rape culture and victim-blaming in 2018? Yan ang kadiri!

4. Remember that indelible scene in GUT with Mrs. Chiong laughing like a mad woman while saying that she would personally kill Paco if she ever saw him? It was such a powerful image that made it even hard to reconcile with this movie’s version of a meek and God-fearing lady who spent most of her time praying in Church.

There were moments here that could have worked in the Chiongs’ favor and probably helped depict their current grieving state to the public (scammers offering to return Jacqueline, how the rest of the family members were neglected after the tragedy, etc.) but they weren’t fully explored.

Instead it focused on blatantly revising documented facts with its portrayal of Davidson Rusia (billed as Nervous Boy) being non-complicit to the crime, the gang as serial rapists, and even the sisters getting abducted in a random waiting shed as opposed to Ayala Center Cebu. It also included a lot of irrelevant scenes where Sonny/Paco’s gang had a fight with barbecue vendors, hysterical protesters showed their support to the Chiong family, Spirit Questors communicated with the dead, and the most laughable one of all, a group of random Law students discussed the case, questioned the loopholes and assumed that some of the convicts might be innocent and then concluded by saying that we needed to trust our justice system because it would ultimately do the right thing. Talaga ba?! Guys, watch Give Up Tomorrow.

5. Feeling ko mas maayos pa yung TV movie na pinalabas during the trial. Yes, the one with Jennifer Sevilla and Niño Muhlach. I wonder if it would ever be made available online.

6. So did Jacqueline Come Home? No. Neglected youngest sister and Jacqueline-lookalike Debbie did. (Kung ano man ibig sabihin nun.)

Honestly, I was very disappointed that this movie wasn’t called Jacqueline Comes Home (Jusko Lord!).

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆