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The Spotless Mind

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

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(4/5)

MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING (P.J. Hogan, 1997)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on My Best Friend’s Wedding:

1. Has it really been twenty years already since the psychopathic Jules (Julia Roberts) tried to sabotage her best friend’s wedding because she was deluded enough (hopelessly in love? What’s the diff?) into thinking that he preferred her Jell-O to Kimmy’s (Cameron Diaz) crème brulée? The answer was a glaring yes coming from the chunky cellular phones with long antennas (resembling pang-kaskas ng yelo!) that were used in this film.

2. That joyous I Say a Little Prayer sing-along would be the scene most remembered here, but I would always be partial to the frothy, silly opening title sequence with a bride and her three chuwariwap bridesmaids singing and dancing along to Ani Di Franco’s Wishin’ and Hopin’. It was just the perfect way to set the tone for this lighthearted (and surprisingly subversive) rom-com.

Additional tidbit: I owned a cassette tape copy of the soundtrack that I listened to every single day for about two months. How could you not fall in love with Jann Arden’s You Don’t Know Me, The Exciter’s Tell Him (pre-Ally McBeal), and Tony Bennett’s The Way You Look Tonight? Perfect wedding playlist.

3. I remembered making a similar pact with a friend that when we turned 30 (or was it 35?) and we were still both single, I would either marry her or have a kid with her. I was so happy when she found herself a boyfriend because I ended up having my baby juice all to myself. Wait, that sounded really disgusting (but not as much as picturing myself in a tux and getting married).

4. To this day, I still couldn’t see why these two beautiful women were fawning over Michael (Dermot Mulroney). He was just too bland and fickle-minded and unhygienic (never forget that he sucked that ring off of Jules’ finger; nope, not romantic because my head was screaming BOOGER!!, er, GERMS!!).

Seriously, everyone was probably rooting for George (Rupert Everett, snubbed of an Oscar nom!) to end up with Jules and wishin’ and hopin’ that he were straight because he had twice as much personality and just looked so fun to be with. Plus, I could easily see myself in George because I would be that kind of friend who would say things like “Who’s chasing you? Nobody. You’re not the one.” Brutal, but honest.

5. I really liked that Julia played a villain for a change (most of her shenanigans bordered on being criminal, and she was just a vile and selfish person), but because she was Julia Roberts, it was hard to completely hate her. Those pratfalls to earn laughs were completely unnecessary, though.

My favorite scene with her would be the one where she cried while dancing with Michael on a ferry (although I did tear up a bit as well during her maid of honor toast, she actually loaned her relationship song *sob* *sob*).

6. Always and forever #TeamKimmy, even if her wedding dress was horrible, especially when compared to the gorgeous lavender dress of Jules.

7. “Choose me. Marry me. Let me make you happy.” Did this sound familiar, Meredith Grey (or Momma Shonda Rhimes)?

8. If this were a Star Cinema movie, it would have probably ended with George (played by Joross Gamboa, of course!) realizing that he was actually straight and that he really loved Jules as more than a friend after all.

Goodbye Dionne Warwick, hello Marion Aunor!

Rating: ★★★★☆

GET OUT (Jordan Peele, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Get Out:

1. It was probably around the 40-minute mark when the mostly white houseguests were excitedly fawning over Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) that I realized this film had the exact same setup as Shake Rattle and Roll 2: Aswang. Chris was obviously Portia (Manilyn Reynes) and his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) was Monica (Ana Roces), the bearer of the townspeople’s feast of the month. The similarity was so uncanny that when a white woman grabbed Chris’s bicep and asked if black meat really tasted better, I really thought that he would be the night’s main course (my brain was screaming: “Stay away from the banig!!”). I felt a tad disappointed that it wasn’t the silly premise that I expected, but I was still surprised with the crazy route that this film took.

2. The opening sequence alone screamed Wes Craven, with a black man getting assaulted in a dimly-lit and deserted (read: quietly creepy) street (I wouldn’t be surprised if it were named Elm). It had the same laugh and then shriek approach that the director used in the cold open of Scream 2 (remember when Omar Epps got stabbed by a dildo through a glory hole? Oh wait, that was Shawn Wayans in Scary Movie, but same diff).

3. “My father would have voted for Obama a third time” was the equivalent of “I’m not racist, I have a lot of black friends” excuse. The fact that it was repeated several times here (and even declared proudly by an older white male) clearly drove home the movie’s message. Actually, there were so many instances that showed the day-to-day realities of the black man experience (Chris’s initial reaction to meeting Rose’s parents was: “I don’t want to be chased off the lawn with a shotgun”, a white police officer asked for his ID even if he wasn’t driving) that felt terribly depressing (and scary, very much like Bradley Whitford’s corduroy pants).

4. Excellent performances all around. The Armitages (Whitford, Catherine Keener, and Williams in her very appropriate, most annoying Marnie mode) made me frightened of these seemingly perfect white suburban liberal-minded families. But even better were the performances by the black cast. Kaluuya delivered a starmaking turn, LilRel Howery had the best lines (“T, S, motherfuckin’ A!”, and reminded me so much of Atlanta’s PaperBoi), but my favorite was Betty Gabriel with her creepy Stepford Wife smile. I didn’t care so much about the Baron Geisler brother, though.

5. I was such a skeptic and would usually laugh whenever I’d hear people getting held-up through hypnosis (Budol Budol!), but the Sunken Place here really left me feeling disturbed. The sound of a spoon stirring in a teacup would never be the same again. Also, all the hypnosis scenes with the out-of-body experience and peering through distant holes made me think so much of Being John Malkovich (also with Keener!).

6. That Behold the Coagula video reminded me of The Dharma Initiative in Lost. We need to go back.

7. I wish there was a more directly racist explanation on why black people were being targeted for the experiments (when one character asked, the simple response was a bit generic that they wanted people that were physically superior). It could have been an even more effective commentary on racism in this kind of social satire.

8. Seeing Papa Armitage getting killed by the horns of the very animal that he hated was just sweet revenge. I also had this oddly satisfying feeling while Rose was getting choked (maybe it was because she annoyingly ate her colored cereal separate from her glass of milk, with a straw to boot).

9. When the police car arrived towards the end of the movie, I actually felt really bad for Chris because in my mind, a white officer would step out and shoot him right on the spot. I would like to believe that I wasn’t the only one who thought the same way. Such a sad world we’re living in, no?

Rating: ★★★★☆

HACKSAW RIDGE (Mel Gibson, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Hacksaw Ridge:

1. I would usually go into an epileptic seizure whenever a blatantly religious film would smack me over the head with its outright themes of spirituality and salvation (refer to The Shack). Now here was the story of a soldier with such unwavering faith that he didn’t want to compromise his beliefs and principles (no to guns!) while trying to survive in Okinawa during bloody World War II. His only weapon of choice? Trust in God’s saving grace.

All of these should have easily resulted to an emergency room visit, but it surprisingly converted me into being a believer instead. Kindness in the face of adversity? Bravery even with the lack of power? Heroism amidst all evil? My faith in humanity was restored yet again all thanks to my new pastor Mel Gibson.

2. Early in the film, we got a glimpse on the kind of person Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield, in a career-defining performance) really was. It didn’t come as a surprise when he later mentioned, “I don’t know how I’m going to live with myself if I don’t stay true to what I believe.” And he did, in the process defying his violent father, his doubting colleagues, his arrogant superiors, and very much the odds of survival in war, while ultimately saving 75 more soldiers just on the strength of his faith alone.

It would be easy to dismiss this as the Hollywood version of the real story, but the basic facts could not be contested. Hearing the real Desmond recall his grueling experiences was just too much for my jaded heart to bear. In one scene, he visited his fallen comrades’ graves after being awarded a Medal of Honor (a first for a conscientious objector) and he simply said, “The real heroes are buried here”.

I ended up flooding the entire row J of CommerceCenter Cinema 2.

3. I honestly almost gave up on this after the first twenty minutes because it was initially headed into pure melodramatic territory with the domestic abuse plot before it veered into a sappy romance complete with a cloying proposal scene. Thank heavens Desmond was immediately sent to war because I definitely did not pay for a Nicholas Sparks adaptation.

4. The combat scenes were nothing short of spectacular. It had the expected amount of gore and carnage (torn legs! rain of blood! decapitations! intestines sprawled out!) that you would feel very much transported right in the middle of battle where bodies got thrown over grenades and broken torsos were used as shields from the shower of bullets.

My biggest pet peeve in action sequences was that with all of the necessary quick movements, one could barely decipher whatever was happening onscreen. This movie did not have that problem at all because it was very much like watching controlled chaos.

Nobody would even question those Oscars for Best Editing and Best Sound Mixing. Did we expect anything less from the director that made torture porn out of a Bible story in The Passion of the Christ?

5. Vince Vaughn should not be in serious movies because the more he tried to be un-funny, the more hilarious he looked. At least he made the most out of his character, spewing the nastiest throwdowns outside of the America’s Next Top Model house. My favorite ones were:

• “How long have you been dead?”

• “I’ve seen stalks of corn with better physique.”

• “Have you ever looked into a goat’s eyes? Good, that’s unnatural.”

5. Was I the only wishing for an Esprit de Corps moment? Yes? Really? Ok.

6. Standout scenes: the one where Desmond “buried” an injured comrade to conceal him from the ruthless Japanese soldiers and one could only see his eye peeking out from the ground, and the scene towards the end where he was being lowered via a makeshift stretcher while clutching on to his cherished Bible. Really powerful stuff.

7. One Japanese soldier raised the white flag and he was still shot to death. And that my friends is the reason why I still have major trust issues.

Rating: ★★★★☆

HIDDEN FIGURES (Theodore Melfi, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Hidden Figures:

1. Jimmy Kimmel in the recent Oscars telecast said it best when he introduced the amazing trio of actresses in this film as Algebra’s Angels.

Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae portrayed Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson respectively, the real-life brains behind NASA’s space exploration program in the early ’60s. These women’s admirable display of courage and resiliency (and basically kicked ass!) amidst the blatant racial and gender discrimination in Virginia during that time was a story that needed to be told (“Every time we have a chance to move ahead, they move the finish line”).

As expected, I cried my heart out throughout the movie’s entirety. Surprisingly, none of it was because of the mathetical equations (elliptical vs parabolic!) written on the board.

2. Katherine was obviously a gifted child because at a young age she could identify all the various shapes (rhombus! tetrahedron!) on a window design even if I could only see pointed shapes and a swirling blob pattern. She reminded me so much of John Nash, another genius that saw symbols float from windows that led to his Nobel Prize.

As the adult Katherine, Taraji dialled down her famous feisty persona by several notches and it effectively worked in her favor. Cookie Lyon would never run half a mile just to pee in a colored bathroom so it was a pleasant surprise when this plucky side showed up in that outburst scene where Katherine, fully drenched from the rain and probably 10 pounds lighter from all the running, stood up to her supervisor (Kevin Costner) who questioned her long bathroom breaks (“I have to run to Timbuktu just to relieve myself!”).

Still surprised she didn’t get an Oscar nomination for that brilliant scene which fully summarized the hurt and embarrassment caused by segregation (colored bathrooms, colored coffee pot, colored fountain, colored seats at the back of the bus, colored entrance in buildings, unbelievable!!). And yes, I cried even more when Costner took a sledgehammer and knocked down that bathroom sign (“Here at NASA, we all pee the same color”). Bring a box of tissues!

3. Given the heavy and serious themes, the movie still managed to wring out laughs from all of the tension. Most of the humor came from the scenes with Janelle (who actually channeled Cookie) and whose character Mary couldn’t care less what the others thought of her liberal ideals (“I have the right to see fine men regardless of color”).

Weirdly enough, I couldn’t hold back my tears even if some scenes were played for laughs (again, all the running done to the bathroom was just heartbreaking). This inspirational film couldn’t be accused of emotional manipulation if all of my pain was self-inflicted, right?

4. “No shoe is worth a life.” This obviously happened pre-Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo.

5. If there was one thing I wasn’t too fond of, it was the amount of time devoted to Katherine’s lovelife. I knew it was meant to humanize her considering that she was a walking computer, but we could have done without it. At 127 minutes, the movie obviously needed a bit of trimming.

6. I really loved the slice of pie reference made to Octavia. I probably held off on eating chocolate pie for a full year after seeing Minnie’s recipe on The Help.

7. Were those huge contraptions the first IBM computer models? They actually looked like the scariest dialysis machines. Kids these days are just way fortunate (read: entitled).

8. Kirsten Dunst played her bitchy supervisor role so well that I wanted to slap her Legal Wife-style when she made Dorothy look like a custodian and asked her to push those heavy files back using a steel cart. Oh, the nerdddddd!!

Speaking of, Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) naturally played the head engineer. Not surprised at all that the cast won the SAG for Best Ensemble.

9. So happy to live in a time when these women are hidden figures no more. Nothing can trump that feeling. Oh, wait…

Rating: ★★★★☆

PATRIOTS DAY (Peter Berg, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT?

My notes on Patriots Day:

1. When Paul Greengrass’ United 93 first came out, I remembered having this lengthy discussion with my friend Trena on whether it was appropriate to create a film based on actual tragedy. Since it came out five years after 9/11, I felt that enough time had passed for everyone involved to heal and a film like that could deliver an important message to a wider audience. Her stance (she’s American btw) was that it was never too soon to make one, it just should never be made at all out of respect for the victims and their families.

I completely understood her point while watching this movie based on the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. I may have lived thousands of miles away yet I was still greatly affected by everything that happened onscreen. I couldn’t even imagine the actual survivors watching this and reliving the horror again.

On the other hand, the film’s strong themes on love, hope, and resilience of the human spirit (the Boston Strong interviews during the end credits made me bawl my eyes out) supported my belief that it was a story worth retelling on the big screen.

In the end, I walked out of the theater still having mixed emotions about this.

2. I was also torn on the obvious distinctions between the heroes and villains in the movie, especially since this was based on a true event. It painted the terrorists (Middle Eastern Muslims) in such a bad light that I seethed in my seat and cheered along with everyone when these savages were subjected to severe brutality. But then how else to portray them if these were the actual facts?

One character perfectly summed up this sad reality: “The accusations are gonna come no matter what we do.”

3. Even if everyone knew how the story would end, this was actually still a very effective thriller. My heart was pounding through my chest when one of the bombs was placed near a pram and I stifled a scream when they were finally detonated. I couldn’t look at the carnage after (broken limbs everywhere!) and the thought that this happened in real life further crushed my already tired heart.

4. There were several scenes here that were viewed through various CCTV footage and my first thought was “Sorry Peter Berg, but Pamilya Ordinaryo did it first.”

5. Don’t we all hate blatant local product placements? Well, Dunkin Donuts had a mini-commercial of its own in this movie. Was it just a coincidence that their slogan’s “America Runs on Dunkin”? Hmmm…

6. I was pleasantly surprised to see Silicon Valley’s Jian Yang here and he definitely had the most crowd-pleasing moment with the line “Go catch those motherfuckers!”.

7. In one sequence, the FBI recreated the actual crime scene in a huge warehouse using specific items from the victims. It then made things easier for them to determine the actual stores with exterior cameras that captured the events real-time, including possible leads. I was completely impressed with this process especially since our local policemen still use toy cars (kotse-kotsehan) to reenact vehicular accidents.

8. It was later revealed that the terrorists apparently watched a lot of porn during their free time. I guess now would be the best time for me to reevaluate my priorities.

Rating: ★★★★☆

LA LA LAND (Damian Chazelle, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on La La Land:

1. One character in this film probably summed up my entire viewing experience of this oftentimes joyous homage to classic Hollywood musicals: “How are you going to be a revolutionary if you’re such a traditionalist?”

Damien Chazelle (who also directed Whiplash, one of the best of 2014) concocted such a nostalgic fantasy world that easily razzle dazzled the audience and made them forget that they were basically watching the same old romance tropes (why am I mentioning romance like it’s a dirty word?). I think Billy Flynn in Chicago said it best with “How can they see with sequins (or in this case, thousands of stars?) in their eyes?”.

2. The “Another Day of Sun” opening sequence was such a delight to watch that it was hard for me not to stomp my feet along with it. Wouldn’t it be great if people suddenly burst into an all-out song and dance production number while stuck in EDSA rush hour traffic? Besides, your obnoxious soulmate might just be right there in the next Tas Trans bus.

3. I named my current car after Emma Stone so my love for her was unquestionable. It would also be out of love for me to say that she was great here as struggling actress Mia (the first audition scene when she was rudely interrupted for a sandwich was heartbreaking), except when she was required to sing. Her voice was just too weak (thin? airy?) and it hobbled what could have been a brilliant showstopper with “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”. (This song sounded like “The Rainbow Connection” while “A Lovely Night” reminded me so much of Frank Sinatra’s “Cheek to Cheek”.)

4. Ryan Gosling as Sebastian was just as charming and had the right amount of smarm, like he was the better person simply for being a jazz enthusiast. He actually looked like he was literally dying of embarrassment while playing A-ha’s “Take On Me”. His fingers were a bit stiff during the piano scenes, but he fared much better vocally. Also, could someone teach me how to whistle that “City of Stars” piece?

5. When J.K. Simmons stormed out of the kitchen to fire Gosling, I actually thought that he would throw a ladle at him and scream, “Not quite my tempo!!”. (Seriously, if you hadn’t seen Whiplash, watch it now!!)

6. Passion, hard work, and the sacrifices made to realize your dreams. Different priorities, different outlooks. Long-distance relationships (“My aunt used to live in Paris…”) rarely worked. Why must life be so cruel?

7. The seasons as metaphors for their relationship status and even the bench break-up scene reminded me so much of (500) Days of Summer. On the other hand, the coffee shop scenes were very Bituing Walang Ningning. I loved the newly-transformed Dorina Pineda vibe she gave when she walked in five years later to get her latte. Uwian na, may nanalo na.

8. That alternate reality sequence would probably go down as the ultimate hopia moment of 2016.

9. Much had been said about the bittersweet ending complete with their longing looks (disappointment? regret? hope? acceptance? closure?) and it probably would have been more poignant if I didn’t see it first in Olivia Lamasan’s The Mistress.

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Best of Pinoy Cinema 2016

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TOP 10 BEST FEATURE LENGTH FILMS

#10

ANG BABAE SA SEPTIC TANK 2:#FOREVERISNOTENOUGH

Written by: Chris Martinez
Directed by: Marlon Rivera

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#9

SEKLUSYON

Written by: Anton Santamaria
Directed by: Erik Matti

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#8

PAMILYA ORDINARYO

Written by: Eduardo Roy, Jr.
Directed by: Eduardo Roy, Jr.

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#7

FOREVER BRIDGELESS

Written by: Racquel Zaballero-Sanchez and Glenn Ternal
Directed by: Racquel Zaballero-Sanchez and Glenn Ternal

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#6

STAR NA SI VAN DAMME STALLONE

Written by: Ronald Allan Habon
Directed by: Randolph Longjas

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#5

SAKALING HINDI MAKARATING

Written by: Ice Idanan and Petersen Vargas
Directed by: Ice Idanan

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#4

DIE BEAUTIFUL

Written by: Rody Vera
Directed by: Jun Lana

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#3

MA’ ROSA

Written by: Troy Espiritu
Directed by: Brillante Mendoza

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#2

SUNDAY BEAUTY QUEEN

Written by: Baby Ruth Villarama
Directed by: Baby Ruth Villarama

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#1

TUOS

Written by: Denise O’Hara
Directed by: Derick Cabrido

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2016 Scorecard:

★★★★★
DIE BEAUTIFUL (Jun Lana)
FOREVER BRIDGELESS (Racquel Zaballero-Sanchez, Glenn Ternal)
FOREVER NATIN (Cyrus Valdez)
MA’ ROSA (Brillante Mendoza)
OKTOPUS (JP Habac)
ANG PAINTING NI TATAY (Sigrid Andrea Bernardo)
SAANMAN NGUNIT DITO (Cheska Salangsang)
SAKALING HINDI MAKARATING (Ice Idanan)
STAR NA SI VAN DAMME STALLONE (Randolph Longjas)
STOP. STEADY. SAYAW. (Dan Villegas)
SUNDAY BEAUTY QUEEN (Baby Ruth Villarama)
TUOS (Derick Cabrido)
XXX (Allison Barretto)

★★★★☆
ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE (Dan Villegas)
CAMP SAWI (Irene Villamor)
CHICBOY (Jasper Ramon Tulabot)
DIGPAN NING ALTI (Bor Ocampo)
FISH OUT OF WATER (Mon Garilao)
ANG BABAE SA SEPTIC TANK 2: #FOREVERISNOTENOUGH (Marlon Rivera)
KATOK (John Rhys Guarina)
KUNG ANG ULAN AY GAWA SA TSOKOLATE (Galileo Sioco Te and Prime Reyes)
LUMAYO KA NGA SA AKIN (ASAWA NI MARIE) (Chris Martinez)
MERCURY IS MINE (Jason Paul Laxamana)
MRS. (Adolf Alix, Jr.)
AN ORCHESTRA IN SEARCH OF A HOME (Ida Anita del Mundo)
PAMILYA ORDINARYO (Eduardo Roy, Jr.)
PEKTUS (Isabel Quesada)
SEKLUSYON (Erik Matti)

★★★☆☆
THE ACHY BREAKY HEARTS (Antoinette Jadaone)
AREA (Louie Ignacio)
ANG BABAENG HUMAYO (Lav Diaz)
BAKA BUKAS (Samantha Lee)
BAKIT LAHAT NG GWAPO MAY BOYFRIEND? (Jun Lana)
BESHIE (Joyce Bernal)
DUKOT (Paul Soriano)
DYAMPER (Mes de Guzman)
EVERYTHING ABOUT HER (Joyce Bernal)
EXPRESSWAY (Ato Bautista)
GET CERTIFIED (Isaias Zantua)
HELE SA HIWAGANG HAPIS (Lav Diaz)
IMAGINE YOU & ME (Michael Tuviera)
JUST THE 3 OF US (Cathy Garcia-Molina)
LUNA (Rae Red)
MANILA SCREAM (Roque Lee, Blair Camilo)
MGA BITOON SA SIUDAD (Jarell Serencio)
NAKAUWI NA (John Relano, Patrick Baleros, Luis Hidalgo)
NED’S PROJECT (Lemuel Lorca)
AN OPEN DOOR (Paul Soriano)
ORO (Alvin Yapan)
SAVING SALLY (Avid Liongoren)
SITSIRITSIT (Brian Spencer Reyes)
SINA DINO AT ANG KANILANG SIKRETO (Miller Ursolino)
ANG TABA KO KASI (Jason Paul Laxamana)

★★☆☆☆
1ST SEM (Allan Ibanez, Dexter Hemedez)
ANG BAGONG PAMILYA NI PONCHING (Inna Salazar Acuña, Dos Ocampo)
BARCELONA: A LOVE UNTOLD (Olivia Lamasan)
BUGTAW (Noah del Rosario)
BUHAY HABANGBUHAY (Paolo Herras)
BUTAS (Richard Cawed)
DAGSIN (Atom Magadia)
ECHORSIS (Lemuel Lorca)
ANG HAPIS AT HIMAGSIK NI HERMANO PULI (Gil Portes)
ANG HAPON NI NANDING (Milo Tolentino)
HIBLANG ABO (Ralston Jover)
HOW TO BE YOURS (Dan Villegas)
HOW TO FIND LOVE (Quark Henares)
I AMERICA (Ivan Andrew Payawal)
I LOVE YOU TO DEATH (Miko Livelo)
KABISERA (Arturo San Agustin, Real Florido)
KUSINA (Cenon Palomares, David Corpuz)
LAKBAY2LOVE (Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil)
LILA (Gino Santos)
LOVE IS BLIND (Jason Paul Laxamana)
LOVE ME TOMORROW (Gino Santos)
LUMAYO KA NGA SA AKIN (BALA SA BALA, KAMAO SA KAMAO, SATSAT SA SATSAT) (Mark Meily)
LUMAYO KA NGA SA AKIN (SHAKE, SHAKER, SHAKEST) (Andoy Ranay)
ANG MAANGAS, ANG MARIKIT, AT ANG MAKATA (Ibarra Guballa)
MANSYONG PAPEL (Ogos Aznar)
MITATANG (Alvin Jezer Gagui)
MY CANDIDATE (Quark Henares)
NOT APPLICABLE (Carl Chavez)
PUNLA (Kenneth Mandrilla)
THE SUPER PARENTAL GUARDIANS (Joyce Bernal)
THE THIRD PARTY (Jason Paul Laxamana)
THIS TIME (Nuel Naval)
TISAY (Alfonso Torre III)
ANG TULAY NG SAN SEBASTIAN (Alvin Yapan)
THE UNMARRIED WIFE (Maryo J. Delos Reyes)
VINCE & KATH & JAMES (Theodore Boborol)
WHISTLEBLOWER (Adolf Alix, Jr.)
WORKING BEKS (Chris Martinez)

★☆☆☆☆
AKI (Milo Tolentino)
BIRDS (Christian Paolo Lat)
DIYOS-DIYOSAN (Cesar Buendia)
ELEMENTO (Mark Meily)
ENTENG KABISOTE 10 AND THE ABANGERS (Tony Reyes, Marlon Rivera)
THE ESCORT (Enzo Williams)
ANG HAPIS AT HIMAGSIK NI HERMANO PULI (Gil Portes)
LANDO AT BUGOY (Vic Acedillo, Jr.)
MANO PO 7: CHINOY (Ian Loreños)
MY REBOUND GIRL (Emmanuel dela Cruz)
PASSAGE OF LIFE (Renz Vincemark Cruz, Hannah Daryl Gayapa)
STRAIGHT TO THE HEART (Frank David Fabros)
THAT THING CALLED TANGA NA (Joel Lamangan)
TPO (TEMPORARY PROTECTION ORDER) (Joselito Altarejos)
TUPANG LIGAW (Rod Santiago)

Metro Manila Film Festival 2016 Scorecard

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After travelling to three cities and four cinemas in two days, I have officially completed the MMFF2016 marathon.

I’m happy to report that the festival achieved its goal and stayed true to its promise of change, of giving the Pinoy audience something new during the holiday season.

Even with a supposed indie selection, I still had a great time in cinemas. Some films made me laugh out loud, some made me cry like a baby, one scared me to my core, the rest I enjoyed watching with young ones (yes, even kids liked these indies!), but most importantly, they required me to think.

Napakasarap makatikim ng ibang klaseng putahe ngayong Kapaskuhan. Hinihintay na lang nila ang ating suporta.

With that said, here’s my festival scorecard:

Best Picture

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1. SUNDAY BEAUTY QUEEN (Baby Ruth Villarama, 2016) – ★★★★★

Napakagandang pelikula! Matututo kang magpasalamat sa bawat biyayang natanggap, pati na rin sa mga sakripisyong hindi mo ginagawa.

At bes, huwag mong sabihin na ayaw mong manood ng malungkot ngayong Pasko dahil sigurado akong pinanood at iniyakan mo lahat ng Christmas ads ng Uber, Selecta, at Coke. Magdala ng isang box ng tissues.

Dahil ang Pasko ay para sa mga bata, isama ang buong pamilya at manood na kayo. Now na. Tapos group hug kayo after. Merry Christmas!! 😊

 

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2. DIE BEAUTIFUL (Jun Lana, 2016) – ★★★★★

Nakakatuwang makatikim ng isang matalinong comedy sa MMFF. Yung nakakatawa ang mga linya at patok sa masa kahit wala ni isang karakter na nahuhulog galing sa bubungan.

Mas nakakatuwa na ang ganitong klaseng produkto ay tinatangkilik ngayon ng mga manonood (puno ang sinehan nung screening namin sa GB3). Pwede naman pala. Kaya naman pala.

Ang talento ni Paolo Ballesteros sa pelikulang ito ay directly proportional sa kanyang kagandahan bilang Trisha Echevarria. Ang husay! Hindi rin nagpakabog si Christian Bables na napakagaling bilang si BFF Barbs. #FriendshipGoals talaga sila. Sana masungkit nila ang Lead at Supporting Actor trophies.

Nuod na mga bes!! 😊

 

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3. SEKLUSYON (Erik Matti, 2016) – ★★★★☆

Sobrang nanghihinayang ako sa pelikulang ito dahil mas maganda pa sana siya kung marunong lamang umarte ang apat na deacons lalo na si Ronnie Alonte.

Ang husay ng technical aspects mula sa production hanggang sound design. Mahirap makalimutan ang lahat ng religious imagery na ginamit dito. Mahusay din ang direksyon para sa isang kakaibang Pinoy horror movie.

Ito talaga ang perfect anti-Christmas movie ngayong taon. Hahamunin kang mag-isip tungkol sa katatagan ng iyong pananampalataya.

 

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4. ANG BABAE SA SEPTIC TANK 2: #FOREVERISNOTENOUGH (Marlon Rivera, 2016) – ★★★★☆

Para sa katulad kong napanood na ata lahat ng Pinoy rom-com at kabisado na ang Star Cinema formula, natawa ako sobra sa pagka-brutal ng pelikulang ito. Bugbog na bugbog ang mainstream filmmaking at escapism in cinema. Walang sinanto katulad ng ginawa nila sa indie filmmaking at poverty porn doon sa unang pelikula.

Awakening talaga ito ni Eugene Domingo. Amoy na amoy ko na naman ang deserving na panalo as Best Actress. Sa three levels of hugot pa lang niya, sulit na ang bayad.

Magaling din si Jericho Rosales bilang Jericho Rosales. May self-awareness ang pagka-plakado bilang rom-com leading man. Naalala ko tuloy si Jaclyn Jose dun sa film within a film ng Tuhog.

Medyo off lang yung abrupt shift in tone dahil sa love story ni Kean Cipriano (na isiningit to ground the film). Pero totoong hinika ako kakatawa hanggang sa pinakahuling sequence. Waging-wagi!!

 

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5. SAVING SALLY (Avid Liongoren, 2016) – ★★★☆☆

Gusto kong tumira sa makulay na mundo ni Marty kahit puno sya ng mga monsters dahil gusto ko makita ang Warner Barberos at Sandara Park. Naalala ko tuloy ang fantasy element ng Scott Pilgrim Vs The World dito.

Nakakakilig at bagay ang tambalang Enzo Marcos at Rhian Ramos. Sana lamang hindi sila Ingles magsalita kasi medyo off para sa akin. Ang hirap lubos na ma-feel ng story dahil sa coniotic speak (ironic ba?). Para lang akong napadaan ulit sa THE Ateneo conyo bench sa labas ng caf. Higad na lang ang kulang para makumpleto ang experience.

“You wanted mayhem, war, and chaos, but isn’t that what love is all about?” Tumpak!!

 

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6. ORO (Alvin Yapan, 2016) – ★★★☆☆

Nag-flashback sa akin ang mga naunang seasons ng American Horror Story sa mga tilted frames na parang see-saw sa pagpapalit-palit. Parang weighing scale na mahirap hanapan ng balanse.

Maganda ang mensahe ng pelikula bilang environmental drama. Malaman ang sinasabi at mabigat sa mga metaphors at symbolisms. May bonus pa na supernatural element (na hindi ko nagustuhan sa Ang Tulay ng San Sebastian pero pasok sa banga sa An Kubo Sa Kawayanan).

Palaban si Irma Adlawan (lagi naman eh). Tindig at upo pa lang naniniwala na akong siya talaga si Kapitana. Sana lang hindi reactionary ang halos lahat ng kanyang eksena kasi siya ang totoong ginto ng pelikula.

 

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7. VINCE & KATH & JAMES (Theodore Boborol, 2016) – ★★☆☆☆

Walang bago maliban sa mga artista. Pinagtagpi-tagping cliches na napanood na natin sa mga dating rom-coms. Hindi rin naman masyadong na-utilize ang textserye origins niya. Halos nakumpleto niya ang checklist ng Star Cinema formula na kinukutya sa Septic Tank 2. Sunset lang ang kulang.

May natural charm itong si Joshua Garcia. Magaling siya dun sa confrontation scene nila ni Ina Raymundo, parang early John Lloyd. Akala ko maiirita ako kay Julia Barretto dito kaya nagulat ako na maayos naman siya, parang early Ate Clau.

Kinilig ang mga teenagers na kasabay kong nanuod. Masyado na ata akong matanda para sa ganitong genre.

 

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8. KABISERA (Arturo San Agustin, Real Florido, 2016) – ★★☆☆☆

Maganda sana dahil napapanahon ang tema nito tungkol sa extrajudicial killings ngunit hindi maayos ang pagkakalahad ng kwento.

Parang binigyan ang bawat artista ng kanyang sariling dramatic highlight para magpakitang-gilas kaya lahat sila eh three notches higher ang akting. Maliban kay Nora Aunor, parang hindi na mabibigyan ng susunod na project ang supporting cast kaya bigay todo na sa pag-ngawa kahit hindi naman kelangan sa eksena.

Ang daming mga bagay na parang walang sense at pinahaba lamang para mapuno ang two hour requirement. Mas mabuti pa yata kung ginawa na lamang siyang episode ng MMK.

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

1. PAOLO BALLESTEROS (Die Beautiful)

2. JOSHUA GARCIA (Vince & Kath & James)
3. JOEM BASCON (Oro)
4. ENZO MARCOS (Saving Sally)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

1. EUGENE DOMINGO (Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough)
2. IRMA ADLAWAN (Oro)
3. NORA AUNOR (Kabisera)
4. RHIAN RAMOS (Saving Sally)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

1. CHRISTIAN BABLES (Die Beautiful)

2. LOU VELOSO (Seklusyon)
3. JERICHO ROSALES (Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough)
4. NEIL RYAN SESE (Seklusyon)
5. LOU VELOSO (Die Beautiful)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

1. RHED BUSTAMANTE (Seklusyon)
2. PHOEBE WALKER (Seklusyon)
3. MERCEDES CABRAL (Oro)
4. MIMI JUAREZA (Die Beautiful)
5. GLADYS REYES (Die Beautiful)
6. SUE PRADO (Oro)
7. CAI CORTEZ (Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough)

Until next year!!

CAMP SAWI (Irene Villamor, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

(Watch the movie before reading this and then let’s discuss. Enjoy it first. Go!)

My notes on Camp Sawi:

1. If I were to create a custom pain scale (you know, the one that doctors used to determine how unbearable your gastritis was even if you were already as pale as Edward Cullen), I would probably place having a broken heart in between a bony impacted wisdom tooth extraction and getting stuck in EDSA traffic on a Monday rush hour morning.

The physical, mental, and emotional anguish of a heartbreak really takes its toll especially on the abandoned party (read: tangang umaasa pa rin) and everyone knows that it usually takes forever to get through the real stages of grief: 1) Nasaktan, 2) Niloko, 3) Iniwan, 4) Umiyak, 5) Nagdusa, 6) Nag-Let Go, 7) Nag-Move On, 8) Nagbago, 9) Sumaya, 10) Gumanda.

2. In this light and lovely comedy that would probably end up as my favorite guilty pleasure this year, brokenhearted women could find solace and redemption in a fictional boot camp (shot in gorgeous Bantayan Island, Cebu City) where sodium-free meals were specially-prepared to avoid further depression, phones and Facebook were deemed useless due to lack of any signal (“only Mother Nature!”), nightly bonfires were held to destroy the remaining memories of your tormentor (“if you want to sunog anything”), and group activities (yoga sessions, morning jogs, film viewing of the classic Sharon-Robin starrer Maging Sino Ka Man, open forums) were conducted to assist in the moving on process.

With the popularity of hugot films of late, this type of resort would actually be a lucrative franchise. Investors, anyone?

3. Remember that brilliant opening in Up that followed the beginning and tragic end of Carl and Ellie’s love story? This movie came close to recreating that sequence, except that nobody died except for Bridgette’s (Bela Padilla) poor heart. Those first ten minutes covered the entire gamut of a failed relationship and its tragic aftermath (stalking an ex on social media to check the new partner, baliwan mode while getting drunk, Google search of “how to heal a broken heart”). Bela was just so good in this role that it made me forget how much she struggled in the recent I America. She clearly had the best scenes in the movie:

• bargaining for ten more minutes on the phone (“kasi ten years kita tinawag na babe eh”)

• bitterly saying lines like “Sino bang brokenhearted ang maganda? Sasaksakin ko!”

• the pig-out scene with Camp Master Louie (Sam Milby) complete with loud munching and reminiscent of Meg Ryan’s orgasm sequence in When Harry Met Sally (“I’ll have what she’s having!”)

• endlessly ranting on getting dumped for not being Chinese (“Sampung taon kami nag-celebrate ng Chinese New Year. Hindi ba niya nakita ang mata ko?”)

4. I really liked the millennial character Jessica (Yassi Pressman) and how her life was always in relation to a pop culture event (on her breakup: “It actually hurt more when Zayn left One Direction”, on her gay boyfriend: “I didn’t know! Did you see Bruce Jenner?”). Instead of being annoying, she was just so charming throwing lines like, “He’s really old. Like ka-age mo old”.

As an old person myself, I did feel a bit happy seeing her receive her comeuppance when Bridgette retorted, “Bata ka pa. Marami ka pang makikilalang bakla.”

5. Parents, please do not bring your kids to this movie. The theme and content aren’t for them anyway. It just felt a bit uncomfortable that there were kids watching when they showed the implied shower fellatio scene. Bring your husbands instead since I’m sure they will at least enjoy ogling at the bikini bodies in full display. Or in my case, wondering how these beautiful women achieved their perennial rosy white cheeks.

6. At this point in her career, Arci Muñoz could do no wrong. As the rocker chick Gwen aka Lovejoy (self-proclaimed Kilabot ng Altura), she was endearing even while getting wasted and throwing up on fresh sheets. Her little girl voice was really funny given that it was coming out of this scorching hot woman’s body and everything she said regardless of sense connected with the audience (“Kelangan ko uminom kasi ang panget mo!”, “Kinukumutan mo ko, pang may boypren yun!”). Her character even asked the exact same question I had about Louie being seen everywhere (“Understaffed ba kayo?”).

That lovely singing voice and song, though. Wow.

Also, seeing Ramona Thornes wearing a Ramones shirt was pure genius.

7. The wild drunk scene with Bridgette and Gwen was already worth the price of admission. I had never laughed so hard hearing things that would only sound funny coming from two drunk women:

• “Kapag Chinese kuripot!” “Hindi! Kapag Chinese masipag, walang holiday!”

• “Hindi lahat ng nag-e-English taga-England, tanga! Minsan taga-Makati lang.”

8. I wonder if this would have worked better as a series instead, along the lines of Orange Is the New Black. There were just so many stories that needed enough time to breathe: the mistress Clarisse (Andi Eigenmann), Joan (Kim Molina) and the untimely death of her fiancé, the chubby girl left by her chubby boyfriend after he lost ten pounds (and resorted to baking to mend her broken heart, familiar no?), and the only gay guy in camp whose heart was full of regrets. Even Louie needed a bit more back story other than he wanted to help these people overcome their sadness. It was hard to feel for all of them and their sob stories when they were mere strangers.

9. New forms of catharsis in Pinoy cinema: jumping off a cliff as a leap of faith, the undying love of videoke (this time set to Regine Velasquez’s Dadalhin), and women stripping off (almost) everything to swim in the beach (ala Chris Martinez’s 100).

10. “Ang mga panget kapag nagkajowa sobrang blessing at kapag iniwan naman ay isang sumpa.” Aray ko beh!

11. Somebody asked me recently how one would know when a person’s already over (or close to moving on from) an ex and the last few moments of the movie perfectly encapsulated my response.

Some people would fear bumping into an ex in a public place (especially with a new partner), but that would be the ultimate test. Sure, it might still sting a bit but instead of digging up the past, if you’re able to ask “Kumusta ka? Ok ka lang ba? Masaya ka ba?” without any form of bitterness or resentment, then you wouldn’t need to book another summer in Camp Sawi.

Welcome back to the real world and get excited for your new “balang araw”.

12. Seriously, is there a place similar to Camp Sawi right now? I already have a list of names that I will recommend it to. 😊

Rating: ★★★★☆

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