S6PARADOS (GB Sampedro, 2014)

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I started #CinemalayaX with a disappointment and it was only fitting to end it with a clunker.

GB Sampedro’s S6parados was like a bad compilation of Regal movies stitched together for no reason. Or an extended Erik Santos music video.

At least we know that Joel Lamangan just might be a better actor than director.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published August 7, 2014.)

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1ST KO SI 3RD (Real Florido, 2014)

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It’d be easy to nitpick and question some choices made in Real Florido’s 1st Ko Si 3rd but in the end, it was so easy to fall in love with.

Beneath all the lighthearted fare and funny antics was a deep sadness because of choices in life and love that needed to be made.

Nova Villa deserves to win Best Actress (New Breed) for her amazing performance, perfectly balancing the humor and pain of her character. A lot of films this year had characters madly laughing while in pain. Villa had a similar scene but it was effectively quiet. Brilliant!!

Dante Rivero and Ruby Ruiz were so good as well in their respective roles. Rivero had the audience rooting for him in the MH role.

While the crowd was audibly cheering until the very end, I was bawling my eyes out. Very Bridges of Madison County feels.

I thought Sundalong Kanin had the Audience Choice in the bag. It’ll face some tough competition with 1st Ko Si 3rd, an obvious crowd pleaser.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published August 6, 2014.)

BWAYA (Francis Pasion, 2014)

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Jeffrey Jeturian’s Tuhog was a brilliant take on how media tend to exploit real-life tragedies. Francis Pasion’s Bwaya felt just like that.

It bordered on being a cheap sensationalism piece in Rated K and a typical dramatization in Maalaala Mo Kaya.

As expected, it was full of TV Patrol acting at the expense of the usually dependable Angeli Bayani. Such a shame.

I was a tad disappointed because Pasion did this much better in his previous work Jay (a personal favorite). If there’s one thing I loved it was the gorgeous cinematography with all the aerial shots of the Agusan marshlands. Who knew the trouble that lurked there?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 6, 2014.)

RONDA (Nick Olanka, 2014)

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Nick Olanka’s aptly-titled Ronda was an hour of watching policemen roam the streets of Manila. It was the most boring ride-along ever.

In one scene, a mother said this clunker while searching for her kid: “Anak ko yun. Kilala ko ang anak ko.” I’m sure you do, lady.

And yet in another, a badly-hurt man rode with the police so they could rush him to a nearby hospital. And the car moved at 20 km/h.

If there’s one good thing in this film, it was the admirable restraint shown by Ai-ai delas Alas in her dramatic scenes. She usually sobs like crazy in all those Wenn Deramas movies so it’s good to see her rein back the hysterics. A fine effort.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 5, 2014.)

DAGITAB (Giancarlo Abrahan, 2014)

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Imagine a date with this really gorgeous UP graduate. You know she’s smart and she knows she’s smart. She keeps yapping endlessly about all her philosophies in life. It reaches a point though where you lose interest and just want to finish your freakin’ drink.

That was my entire viewing experience of Giancarlo Abrahan’s Dagitab, a film full of gorgeous images but was a clear test of patience.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 5, 2014.)

K’NA THE DREAMWEAVER (Ida del Mundo, 2014)

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Absolutely enchanted by Ida del Mundo’s K’na the Dreamweaver, about a T’boli princess deciding between love or peace. Simple yet effective.

Mara Lopez is slowly becoming one of my favorite actresses. Her roles are just so diverse and all of them really challenging. Bravo!

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published August 4, 2014.)

HARI NG TONDO (Carlos Siguion-Reyna, 2014)

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I loved, loved, loved Carlos Siguion-Reyna’s Hari ng Tondo! The setup felt forced and it stumbled in its last act but it was a joy to watch.

Like any Bibeth Orteza screenplay, it got preachy in the end but it was still great, each scene propelling the story forward.

Robert Arevalo has the Best Actor (Director’s Showcase) award in the bag. He’s just always brilliant in the hands of Siguion-Reyna.

I hope Cris Villonco also gets recognized for her strong work. She’s gone a long way from her previous teenybopper roles.

I think I just found my favorite film in this year’s festival.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published August 4, 2014.)

THE JANITOR (Michael Tuviera, 2014)

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In Michael Tuviera’s The Janitor, Dennis Trillo had a workout montage done in the weirdest places. When he took a shower after, my brain kept screaming, “Pasma!”. It was all downhill from there.

This was just a badly-recycled Lawrence Fajardo movie.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published August 4, 2014.)

SUNDALONG KANIN (Janice O’Hara, 2014)

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I won’t be surprised if Janice O’Hara’s Sundalong Kanin ends up as this year’s Audience Choice. It was flawed but completely engaging.

Not even the overacting of Marc Abaya (who just graduated from the post-80s Christopher de Leon School of Acting) made me dislike the movie.

I hope they give the Ensemble Cast award to the kids of Sundalong Kanin, easily the most charming kids since last year’s Iskalawags.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published August 3, 2014.)