MOVIE REVIEW: MADRASTA (Olivia Lamasan, 1996)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Madrasta:

1. Bakit obsessed ang Hollywood sa pag-plagiarize ng films ni Claudine Barretto? Masyadong glaring ang similarities ng Got 2 Believe at 27 Dresses. Lalong hindi ako maniniwala na coincidence lang ang mga eksena na parehong-pareho sa Stepmom at Madrasta (kasama na yung confrontation scene ng dalawang nanay sa restaurant at yung ending na pagsali ng madrasta sa family picture). Akala n’yo tayo lang ang walang originality lagi ha. O ayan may masusumbat na din tayo sa Hollywood. Sana ang susunod na gayahin nila ay Kailangan Kita, where we’ll see a braless country girl played by Jennifer Lawrence fall in love with New York celebrity chef Chris Evans.

2. Isa siguro ito sa mga pelikula na kaya kong sumulat ng 1,000-word essay of random thoughts na walang kahirap-hirap. Memorable pa siya kasi bahay ng friend ko nung high school ang ginamit na location dito. Muntik na nga ako magka-film debut nung sinabihan niya kami na naghahanap ng extras for a party scene ni Ate Clau. Ang tagal ko pa namili ng best Giordano outfit ko tapos biglang na-pack up. Ayun siya na lang ang nakasama nung sumunod na shooting day (wearing her best Giordano outfit). Pero feel na feel ko pa rin na kasama ako sa pelikula by association.

3. If you’ll watch this through woke lenses in 2020, lalabas talaga na sobrang problematic niya. Marami kasing aspects ang film dealing with the class divide (“Pinakikisamahan ko na ang mga anak mo. Pati ba naman mga katulong kelangan ko pa pakibagayan?”) to the patriarchal system na hindi na acceptable ngayon. Although it did speak to an audience that lived through that period. Yung mga nakaporma ng Umbro jerseys or yung mga 90’s titos and titas na nagulantang ang pagkatao nang makita si Mariel (Megastar Sharon Cuneta) na nakaupo sa kubeta.

4. Peak Tita Shawie talaga ito. Deserved ang Grand Slam kasi ibang-iba ang atake kumpara sa mga blockbuster 80’s melodramas niya. Yung tahimik lang umiyak pero ramdam na ramdam yung sakit na kahit anong gawin niya, hindi siya talaga magiging parte ng pamilya ng asawa niya. Na kahit nagreklamo siya na lagi siyang nag-take ng backseat para sa mga bata, ang sinagot lang sa kanya ay, “I cannot give importance to my happiness at the expense of my children”. Saklap! Nasabihan pa na hindi masarap ang gawa niyang baked mac huhu.

Best scene niya dito yung almost wordless na pag-iyak niya sa deathbed ng kanyang favorite lolo set to the haunting Moonlight Sonata. Parang binuksang gripo ang mga mata niya pero very restrained ang acting. Halos hindi na rin ako makahinga kakaiyak nung umabot na sa sweet and touching na pa-ilong nila.

5. Nagustuhan ko yung twist na hindi madrasta ang maldita for a change. Effective talaga si Ate Clau basta pasaway ang roles niya (see also: Anak, Dahil Mahal na Mahal Kita). Kahit yung jumper outfits niya parang nagsusumigaw na super bitch. Tawang-tawa ako nung ibinibida siya ni Mariel sa kapatid nito by saying, “Mukhang suplada lang si Rachel pero kapag nakilala mo… ano… (two second pause)… ok naman.” Hahahaha!

Si Ms. Vangieeeee Labalan naman sobrang atribida as the household mayordoma. Walang bukambibig kundi ang kanyang idol na si Ma’m Sandra (Zsa Zsa Padilla). Feeling ko kung ganun din ang ugali niya sa akin, di rin siya magtatagal ng isang linggo. Either that or lagi ko papatunugin yung bell na pantawag sa kanya (very 90’s burgis film nga diba).

6. Speaking of social classes, ang galing nung juxtaposition ng lunch scenes ng dalawang pamilya. Yung kina Mariel talagang magkakatabi sila in a compact dining area tapos ang ingay mag-kwentuhan. Tapos nung kina Edward (Christopher de Leon) na, nasa may garden at naka-long table tapos very refined at tahimik lang. Yung mom lang niya (Madam Tita Muñoz) ang nag-lead ng entire conversation (at mukhang siya rin ang totoong may-ari ng bell).

Naalala ko nung pinanood ko ito sa sinehan sobrang lakas ng tawanan na more lamon ang brother ni Mariel (Cris Villanueva). Tapos biglang sigaw naman nung nahulog ang crab ng isang sister niya (Eula Valdez) na pinulot bigla at inilagay niya sa kandungan. Very relatable talaga sila.

Although ang funniest scene ni Eula for me still was yung pinabili siya ng McCormick Black Pepper tapos ang binili niya cornick kasi akala niya kelangan ng chichirya sa fancy birthday party ni Ate Clau. Bwahahaha!!

7. One of the few local films that first used live sound kaya minsan di mo marinig ang sinasabi ng characters kasi mas malakas pa ang mga palaka sa background.

8. Points to ponder:

“Meron ba namang nagmahal na hindi nasaktan? Kaya ka nasasaktan kasi nagmamahal ka. Pero mas masakit kung naghihintay ka ng kapalit. Yun bang iniisip mo kung ano ang dapat mong matanggap sa halip na isipin mo kung hanggang saan ang kaya mong ibigay. Kasi tayo eh mahilig tayong tumingin sa katabi kapag tayo ay nasasaktan na. Yun bang iniisip nating sila ang may kasalanan. Bakit? Wala din ba tayong mga pagkakamali?”

Rating: ★★★★★

MOVIE REVIEW: AN KUBO SA KAWAYANAN (Alvin Yapan, 2015)

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It’s the kind of crazy good filmmaking that makes you not want to give up entirely on Philippine Cinema, especially independent films.

Kitang-kita na pinag-isipan ang bawat metikulosong eksena at mahihiya ang mainstream movies na halatang minadali at produkto ng katamaran.

If there was one minor thing that I didn’t like, it would be the tiny yellow subtitles that you could barely read in some scenes.

Otherwise, it was a beautiful (BEAUTIFUL!) movie in every sense of the word.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published July 8, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: MOULIN ROUGE! (Baz Luhrmann, 2001)

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I’m definitely Toulouse-Lautrec hanging from a high beam screaming the cheesiest, yet incredibly magical line: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” (Truth! Beauty! Freedom! And above all, Love!)

(I still can’t believe that Luhrmann was snubbed of a Director nom. To quote the hilarious Whoopi Goldberg in her Oscar 2002 opening monologue, “I guess Moulin Rouge just directed itself!”)

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published June 27, 2017.)

MOVIE REVIEW: HERO (Zhang Yimou, 2002)

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Why do I have this weird feeling that Direk Chito Roño chanced upon this film one late evening on HBO before he started pre-production for The Healing? Also, Christopher Doyle’s cinematography was just WOW!!

I remember having the biggest crush on Zhang Ziyi post-Crouching Tiger. Felt so bad when her Hollywood debut via the terrible Horsemen failed miserably. Crossing my fingers for her redemption in God Particle.

And I developed a slight fear of arrows after this. Not even kidding.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published June 29, 2017.)

MOVIE REVIEW: BAO (Domee Shi, 2018)

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I found the accompanying short film Bao a more effective representation of parenting (than The Incredibles 2). One scene elicited the loudest gasps from the audience and I immediately knew how much I loved this bizarre little treat. The fact that it broke my heart in just a few minutes (very much like Up’s opening sequence) was just a bonus.

I probably would never look at a dumpling the same way again. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have strong cravings for Din Tai Fung’s Xiao Long Bao (those in HK, not the terrible ones in BGC) after watching, though.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published June 19, 2018.)

MOVIE REVIEW: FAR FROM HEAVEN (Todd Haynes, 2002)

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Racism, homosexuality, sexism, and an interracial relationship in an artificially picture-perfect 50’s suburban neighbourhood. How scandalous!

Julianne Moore (spectacular as always) and her gorgeous flouncy skirts can turn anyone gay before the end of Pride Month.

Was I the only one feeling an underlying sexual tension between her character and the help played by a pre-The Help Viola Davis? (Ooh, how juicy!)

Worthless fact: The best scenes of three of the 2003 Oscar Best Actress nominees actually involved trains.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published June 19, 2018.)

MOVIE REVIEW: SCREAM (Wes Craven, 1996)

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“Don’t you blame the movies. Movies don’t create psychos. Movies make psychos more creative!” Hahaha! Such a smart screenplay!

Wouldn’t it be great to see a Kris Aquino horror flick where she’d actually get killed within the first fifteen minutes? Your move, Star Cinema!

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published June 13, 2018.)

MOVIE REVIEW: THE HOURS (Stephen Daldry, 2002)

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Three generations of depression and (repressed) homosexuality personified by three brilliant acting legends.

“Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more.” 😭😭😭

Cue Philip Glass’ haunting score.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published June 13, 2018.)