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The Spotless Mind

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

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Pinoy – 2015

EX WITH BENEFITS (Gino Santos, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ex With Benefits:

1. Why did the “10 Years Ago” Derek Ramsay look exactly like the present old-looking Derek? And did the movie really expect me to believe that he only had a 4-year age gap with Coleen Garcia? Really?! Also, is he wearing eyeliner?

2. Was this supposed to be a sex comedy? The “I Love You Always Forever” montage was cringe-worthy. And how horny were these two to actually make-out in a theater showing Feng Shui? Kris Aquino and Lotus Feet as aphrodisiacs? Eek!

3. This was another one of those petty people with petty problems movie. In one scene, Derek defended the pagkababae of Coleen by punching another student. After he got suspended, he immediately lashed out at her and blamed her for what happened. Huh?! Why should I be rooting for their love story?

4. In another scene, Derek was supposed to take his revalida and asked the proctor for two minutes to talk to Coleen. The proctor kept saying, “Kapag nag-umpisa na, wala na pwede pumasok” and yet several students still kept entering the classroom. How’s that for conflict?

5. Rayver Cruz’s constant use of the word “Bro” will forever haunt me in my dreams. Am I the only one annoyed by this term? It reminded me again that hindi lahat ng paminta ay nasa adobo.

6. My biggest problem with the movie was that Coleen’s character was a smart and beautiful girl and yet she had to use her body to get her way in life. And did she really have to do the nasty with the Dean just to save Derek’s future career? Iha, matalino ka. Gamitin mo naman utak mo.

7. I wonder how med reps will react on these spiteful lines:

“If you can’t be a doctor, date one.”

“Wag utak doktor. Dapat utak med rep.”

8. 50 Shades of Grey, Gone Girl, The Fault in Our Stars. The screenwriter loved pop-culture references.

9. If you’re watching for the sex scenes, be warned. It consisted mostly of Derek rubbing his face on Coleen’s various body parts.

10. There were so many lines that made me (unintentionally) laugh.

On the idea of romance: “Babalik ka na parang fungi.”

On jealousy: “Kulang na lang eh hubaran mo siya!”

On pain: “Kelangan nya masaktan para malaman nya na buhay sya.”

By the way, the last line was about a newborn na pinalo-palo ng nurse so it would cry.

I told you the movie was a hoot.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

PATINTERO: ANG ALAMAT NI MENG PATALO (Mihk Vergara, 2015)

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My notes on Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo:

1. “Sa patintero, mananalo raw ang pinakamabilis tumakbo. Pero ang totoo, mananalo ang pinakamatatag ang puso.”

I was immediately transported back to the early 90’s pre-videogame, pre-Facebook era when kids like my reed-thin old self played real games (and by real, I meant sweaty running in the dirt until my Tide-white school polo shirt had turned the color of my favorite Serg’s chocolates).

Lunch was my favorite time of the day with every minute spent on the patintero grounds of Zobel. I hated losing because it meant crawling under this long line of legs of classmates that would be jeering and using the forbidden (and humiliating) “S” word known to a young boy: SUPOT.

2. The nostalgia factor alone was enough to make me like this movie. My heart could not contain its excitement when the basic rules of the game were discussed: doble balik, no touchback, no double team. Even seeing the old two-peso decagon coin brought back a lot of good memories.

3. Given such an interesting premise, I wish the movie stuck to being a film made for children, instead of catering to the children at heart. Similar to the excellent RPG: Metanoia, it could have been a great way to show the kids today how things were prior to DOTA.

I was actually surprised with the G rating given the comic violence and profanity (mostly from the kid actors). The animated sequences were great (a heightened depiction of the game’s action) but did we really have to see the kids punching and hitting each other in reality?

My inner prude even groaned a bit in the scenes where our underdog heroine raised her middle finger to her hecklers, uttered the word “Pakshet!”, and rallied her team by saying “Talunin na natin ang mga gagong yan”. (Please don’t say, “Well, that’s reality” because it will just make me even sadder.)

4. Were the animated fight sequences inspired by Kung Fu Hustle? I actually expected the Auntie played by Suzette Ranillo to show up with hair rollers since she already had the cigarette down pat.

5. I was really bothered when they started the game with missing players. Any patintero fanatic would know that you couldn’t play with uneven teams. I mean that was usually how I got to play: out of lack of choice during a schoolyard pick or it would be a default.

6. My favorite dialogue in the movie:

Kid 1: “Candy?”
Kid 2: (shakes head) “Nag-quit na ako.”

My second favorite:

Bully: “Bakit hindi perfect ang ginawa mong assignment namin?”
Geek: “Sino naman maniniwala na makaka-perfect kayo?”

7. The movie needed a stronger narrative (especially with the free fishballs and sudden character changes in the end), but all was forgiven with that Maselang Bahaghari move that made me tear up a bit. Now that was definitely a heart heart moment.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

ANINO SA LIKOD NG BUWAN (Jun Lana, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!! (Also: Rated R-18)

My notes on Anino Sa Likod Ng Buwan:

1. If you haven’t seen this film yet, do yourself a big favor. Stop reading this, head over to the nearest cinema, and watch this two-hour one-take achievement in local filmmaking. You can thank me later.

2. I was greatly reminded of two things while watching. The first was Joe Wright’s adaptation of Anna Karenina, a visual feast with its moving sets and changing backdrops all within the confines of a theater. This one had the exact same feel, although it was limited to just one camera moving around in a tiny hut. Everything was expertly-staged and it had to be because there wasn’t a lot of room for errors (I could only imagine how frustrating it would have been to keep reshooting if major flubs were committed).

This type of staging also supported the oftentimes theatrical cadences and lyrical dialogue (one character’s description of another: “Lubog ang mata, humpak ang pisngi, ang mga linya sa mata niya na tila bahay ng gagamba”, which was exactly how I would describe myself before breakfast).

3. With just a few choice words (“walang kuryente”, “walang tubig”, “kamote ulit”, “nakaw na sardinas”, “sobrang init”), it quickly established its setting in treacherous ’90s Marag Valley (also known as “No Man’s Land” in Kalinga-Apayao). The battle between the military and the rebels placed the land in such a depressing state that one character actually felt relieved that his wife had a miscarriage, rather than watch their baby die of hunger. Now I would always remember that before complaining about something as petty as EDSA traffic.

4. Farmer Nardo (Anthony Falcon) kept saying the line “Wag mong gagalawin ang asawa ko. Akin yan!” that it all but guaranteed wife Emma (LJ Reyes) and bantay-salakay soldier/friend Joel (Luis Alandy) hooking up in that now notorious 10-minute graphic sex scene (even in black and white though, I could have sworn that Luis used plaster; don’t ask).

But really, if there were only three actors and two of them had full frontal nudity, whatever happened to solidarity? We could have easily judged who had the bigger ari. (Also, I take everything that Mo Twister says with a grain of salt so…)

5. I could still remember LJ as a Starstruck Survivor trying her best to squeeze out the tears in that drama workshop under Gina Alajar so that she wouldn’t be replaced by an Avenger (Starstruck, not Marvel) in the weekly eliminations. Well, this fearless Urian winner had definitely gone a long way. She was just amazing here, to say the least (even better than when I last saw her in Tanghalang Pilipino’s Juego de Peligro).

If I remembered correctly, in the entire two hours, she only blatantly tripped during the “puke at mga suso” line, but then who wouldn’t (again, one-take, no cuts)? Even her cunnilingus aria was spectacular. Brava!

6. Similar to Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe, I really liked the inclusion of a local mystical creature in the discussion. Nothing else could describe the horrors of that time like a homegrown kapre. To quote one character, “Sino ba talaga ang kaaway?”.

7. Oh, the other thing that I was reminded of was the FX TV show The Americans with its smart take on spies, lies, double crosses, deceit, and even unrequited love.

8. “Lahat tayo ay mga baliw na nagpapanggap na may katinuan sa pag-iisip.”

9. It was funny that after the final scene when the screen faded to black, nobody stood up and left because we were all expecting an end credits sequence. Waiting for it, though, was like waiting for a redemption that will never come.

Rating: ★★★★★

EVERYDAY I LOVE YOU (Mae Cruz-Alviar, 2015)

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My notes on Everyday I Love You:

1. Let me start by saying that this movie was far from being groundbreaking. It was a simple and derivative love story that didn’t really deviate much from the Star Cinema rom-com formula. It successfully delivered on the promised kiligs, though, and I went out of the theater feeling like I was experiencing puppy love for the very first time again.

2. All the credit should go to the wonderful tandem of Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil. They saved a tired old plot straight out of While You Were Sleeping (loyalty vs love) just by continuously teasing each other and making googly eyes that made the entire theater swoon.

They were more than bagay. In my heart, they were really meant to be.

3. Dear Star Cinema, please let this be the last time that Enrique takes a video of an unsuspecting young woman. We do not support perverts (or uncouth leading men). Being rude to women is definitely not romantic.

4. I wish Bacolod would have had more exposure in the movie. Aside from the antique houses, the only other thing I learned was that they had a lot of sugar canes.

5. I also wish the transitions from scene to scene were much better. In the juxtaposition sequence of Liza crying beside a comatose Gerald Anderson and Enrique crying beside his dying father, people giggled endlessly (I’m guessing it was also because of Enrique’s atrocious haircut).

In another scene, Liza started with the line “Dun nagsimula ang kwento namin…” and as expected, the flashback scenes started. Groan.

6. Gerald was comatose for majority of the movie and he still managed to give a terrible performance. Ugh.

7. Liza was so good in that Silay Scooter Girl airport sequence. Star Cinema has found its new rom-com princess.

8. I really liked how Liza’s Tagalog twang was assumed as an Ilonggo accent. It actually worked and didn’t serve as a distraction.

9. The One More Chance references were blatant but effective still. Gerald’s character Tristan was also very controlling down to the chicken and hot sauce that Liza’s Audrey wanted to make papak.

At one point, Tristan even said, “Mas gusto ko nakapalda ka” all while wearing a tree outfit. Wake up, girl! Who would want to be tied up with this clueless control freak?

10. There was a Goldilocks mamon product placement that had to be mentioned. Too bad they already phased out McDonald’s Shake Shake fries.

11. “Mahirap kalabanin ang first love.” Do you agree?

12. I usually hate watching with noisy fantards. Except when I’m screaming along with them. Sobrang kilig ng LizQuen loveteam eh.

13. Finally, a Star Cinema movie with a title that actually made sense. When it was referenced in one scene, my heart died a little.

14. Doctor to Tristan: “It’s possible na ma-comatose ka ulit.”

Audience: “Ok lang po.”

Poor coma guy.

15. That Goodbye Silay Scooter Girl phone sequence.

Ang galing na umarte nina Liza and Enrique. Now I’m even more of a fan.

16. “Higit pa sa nagpapasaya sa’yo, piliin mo kung ano ang tama. And you can only do that if you’re honest with yourself.”

17. I repeat, “If it’s the right person, there’s no such thing as way too soon.”

18. SOBRANG GANDA NI LIZA SOBERANO!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

BEAUTY AND THE BESTIE (Wenn Deramas, 2015)

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My notes on Beauty and the Bestie:

1. Ever since Petrang Kabayo became a huge hit (and after close to a dozen collaborations), you already knew what to expect from a Vice Ganda-Wenn Deramas movie. It was the same old formula recycled to death (insult one-liners, Pinoy pop culture parodies, endless sight gags, lowbrow slapstick, etc.) and your enjoyment depended on how you embraced this kind of humor.

BATB was still trashy to a fault but at least it was really funny. (Deramas had been vocal about the goal of his movies and he actually succeeded on this one.)

2. That awful anti-piracy ad with Derek Ramsay was ripe for a parody and the movie really got it right (eskinita chase, Kristoffer King, tomatoes and all). Maybe we should have replaced that one with this so that everyone could have a great laugh before each screening. Runner-up for best parody: the Ate waitress Happy Birthday dance.

3. Sample brand of humor:

Vice and his stand on riding in tandem…

“Paano gaganda ang buhay mo sa pagsakay sa motorsiklo na yan? Bumbay ka ba?”

Vice on the importance of skincare…

“Bakit di yang mga pores mo ang isara mo dahil bukas na bukas?”

Coco Martin displaying his English proficiency…

“Alam mo kung bakit di kita pinapansin? Kasi di kita maintindihan Ingles ka ng Ingles.”

4. Speaking of Coco, I was happy to see that he has improved a lot as a comedian. His best moments were those where he wasn’t even trying (twerking like a hot mess, taking advantage of his lisp by saying things like Elith Thupher Thecreth Thask Force, or making a fist by instinct when Vice tried to kiss him). Maybe it was time for him to rest from all the heavy drama and explored his rom-com leading man potential instead.

5. Not all of the jokes worked but those that did were just hilarious. Inasmuch as I really enjoyed that Hold On car sequence, I probably laughed the loudest in that whole Japanese restaurant fishpond scene.

I mean seriously, what was the most embarrassing thing you had done in an upscale resto? Had you ever chewed on the compressed table napkin? Mistook the bowl of water for hand washing as soup? Spill!

6. The JaDine romance (similar to AlDub’s in My Bebe Love) was completely disposable. Although Nadine Lustre was really game, the tandem’s love story was obviously just included to pull in the teen audience (and the love team’s ginormous fan base). All was forgiven though because James Reid bared his abs.

7. Further proof that Jacky Woo was the only available actor that can play Japanese characters in local cinema.

8. If you were keeping track of Deramas’ fascination with videogames, here was a rundown:

Praybeyt Benjamin 1 – Angry Birds
Praybeyt Benjamin 2 – Plants vs. Zombies and Dota
Beauty and the Bestie – Fruit Ninja

What else did I miss?

9. I felt bad that Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago had to fart during the beauty pageant. Definitely not something fit for a queen. And speaking of queens, Vice Ganda’s got legs for days, no?

10. In one scene, I watched in horror as Nadine paraded onscreen wearing a horrible off-shoulder yellow blouse and pleated grey skirt combo. In a hospital. The fact that Vice made a brutal joke about it made me love him even more. Grabe sya oh!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

ALL YOU NEED IS PAG-IBIG (Antoinette Jadaone, 2015)

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My notes on All You Need Is Pag-ibig:

1. It’s easy to identify if you’re watching an Antoinette Jadaone romantic-comedy. After the success of That Thing Called Tadhana, almost everything that she has written and/or directed followed a standard template with the usual elements (an animated prologue with a heart, a scene inside a moving vehicle like a bus or a plane, crying scene over the same pares restaurant, lovely out-of-town location, etc.). The only thing different in this movie was the omnibus structure similar to Love Actually.

2. The problem with having a lot of interconnected stories was the limited time being allotted per narrative. The movie also tried to force several unnecessary connections with its characters. Unfortunately, it chose to focus on the weakest and most formulaic love story (sorry KimXi fans), further reducing the screen time of the most interesting ones (the more grown-up A Very Special Love workplace romance of Jodi Sta. Maria and Ian Veneracion, and a variation of 1st Ko Si 3rd’s dying marriage between Nova Villa and Ronaldo Valdez).

3. Kris Aquino played a love guru named Love with her own popular talk slash advice show. Her character suffered a major meltdown on live TV while being interviewed by Boy Abunda. It should be noted that Kris was completely silent during the first few minutes of the said interview (a first on Philippine TV) and that the said meltdown was not triggered by Boy’s imaginary mirror. It should also be noted that in a future scene, Kris could be seen wearing a bikini and that immediately set off my holiday depression.

4. The major source of kilig here came from the Jodi and Ian tandem simply because they were really bagay. There was nothing original in their love story but you couldn’t help but feel all tingly inside with every stolen glance and sweet gesture. Their story alone was worth the price of admission.

Star Cinema, please tell me that they have their own movie coming out soon (preferably without Jodi’s horrendous wig).

5. Coron, Palawan looked gorgeous. If only I were not averse to sunshine, I would have booked a flight already.

6. I have loved Kim Chiu since she discovered her inner comedienne in Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo. Sometimes she just needed to rein herself in a bit especially since she was matched with the very wooden Xian Lim (perfect for a Machete remake). Every scene with him was just so annoying (no, he was not clap clap POWERFUL!) that I almost went half-bald from tearing my hair out.

7. The Facebook-like page used in one scene showed “View Photo’s”. At this point, I really went bald.

8. A lot of the funny scenes in this movie involved naked actors. Nova Villa brought the house down with her (literally) stripped down performance. A topless Xian with his mismatched face and body skin tones (put down that Chin Chun Su!) made my stomach hurt. And Derek Ramsey running butt naked on the beach wasn’t really funny but the thought that this role was originally given to Herbert Bautista (imagine Bistek’s bum!) made me laugh really hard. May I request that for a possible sequel, please?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

HAUNTED MANSION (Jun Lana, 2015)

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My notes on Haunted Mansion:

1. I could have easily written the first fifteen minutes of this movie. It involved a kid searching a (spoiler alert!!) haunted mansion saying different variations of the word “mom”. “Mom? Mom? Mooom? Mom! Mom!! Mooommm!! Mom, mom, mom!!” Instead a mumu appeared and ate him.

2. The best friend character played by Sharlene San Pedro apparently lost her cellphone in the canteen so she nonchalantly walked back to that area. She must have had a Nokia 3310 as well. I remember when I left the same unit in a restaurant and ten minutes later, it was still sitting untouched on the table. I guess possible thieves saw my precious phone more as a liability.

3. Janella Salvador’s character had a third eye so she was approached by dead people everywhere. Forget the mansion, it was haunted wherever she went. Haunted Everywhere would have been more original than anything in this movie.

4. I audibly gasped when I saw Lilet appear onscreen as Janella’s mom. I will forever remember her as the iconic manyika that came to life opposite Herbert Bautista in Pik Pak Boom. (If you know that one, then cheers to a life well-spent.)

5. One of the mean girls in school (who will never be Regina George) gave Janella a box of chocolates with live cockroaches in lieu of actual chocolates. The fact that she didn’t notice the movements of the critters inside the box made me question her senses (sixth or otherwise).

6. I was appalled by the general lack of rules in the school here. One male student had an eyebrow piercing, most of the girls wore skimpy shorts, the faculty even extended the stay of several students in the haunted mansion as a form of punishment. Actually I shouldn’t be surprised because this same school thought that a haunted mansion with a next-door private cemetery would be the perfect place for a retreat.

7. Jun Lana directed the excellent Bwakaw so I wasn’t sure why he was channelling Dementia with the same cheap scares and loud banging noises.

8. An hour into the movie and not one of the lame young actors had been killed yet. Instead we saw the talented ones like LJ Reyes, Joem Bascon, and Iza Calzado get hanged, burned to ashes, or died of boredom (oh wait, that was me).

9. I always sympathize with any movie character that has asthma or uses an inhaler. In this movie, it was the Horror Royalty Janice de Belen. Unfortunately, she had a thankless role where she was asked to say inane lines. When several people started getting killed, her word of advice while looking at the corpses was, “Ang magagawa natin ay ipagdasal na lang sila.” Girl, you cray!!

10. In a movie populated by dim-witted characters that hide under a table to flee a shrieking ghost, I wasn’t surprised that the ghost itself was stupid. It initially got killed by a flaming cross and you’d expect that it would have learned its lesson to stay away from an altar but no, the story flashed three months forward and it still went near an altar and eventually got killed by a rosary.

11. Here’s my favorite scene:

Janella ran to the corpse of her very dead friend Faye and screamed, “Faye, anong nangyari??”

At that point, I laughed so hard that my appendix shot out of my ass, bounced on the theater wall, and knocked the usher unconscious until the end credits.

He was actually the lucky one.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

#WALANGFOREVER (Dan Villegas, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on #WalangForever:

1. Remember how almost everything in One More Chance felt familiar because anybody in a current or previous relationship could relate to at least one of the things happening between Basha and Popoy? It was the exact same feeling I had while watching this film.

All of the scenes that involved Ethan (Jericho Rosales, doing his best work since Alagwa) and Mia (Jennylyn Mercado, consistently affecting) were deeply rooted in reality that one would end up thinking “Hey, I’m Ethan and you’re Mia!”, or “I’m the malambing one that would bite your shoulder while you’re playing PS4!”. No? Just me then?

2. I liked how Mia as a writer exploited her own lovelife to come up with her screenplays. The different stages (The Meet Cute, Going Steady, The Kilig, The Proposal, The Missed Event, The Break Up) not only covered an entire relationship cycle but also served as perfect cliches (the rain, the pillow fight, the mass proposal) for her rom-com movies. For the record, I was almost sent out of the theater for laughing really hard at Bb. Joyce Banal.

3. “You” is probably one of the most kilig songs ever written (“It’s your smile/Your face, your lips that I miss/Those sweet little eyes that stare at me and make me say/I’m with you through all the way/’Cause it’s you…). Bitin ba? Why? Were you singing?

Nothing can beat the cover of Roselle Nava, though (you can admit your age and your liking of the song, no judgments).

4. When the exes met at the group dinner scene, it was so well-executed that as a viewer, I felt awkward and restless in my seat. Why can’t exes be nice to each other? Wait, why are they drinking Tanduay on the rocks?

5. One scene that felt completely off was the extended coffee place bit. It just stretched on for several minutes and no amount of Jerald Napoles could save that one. I also wished the movie was paced much better especially considering the abrupt shift in tone on its second half.

6. Jericho recently won (the controversial) Festival Best Actor and I felt bad for him since he was really good in this movie. His natural smugness was put to good use and even if he was sometimes being a jerk to Jennylyn, I couldn’t bring myself to hate him because he was still charming.

He had two really good scenes that made me choke up a little (who am I kidding, I cried my eyes out as if KFC announced that they will no longer be serving chicken). The first one was when he said “Isama mo naman ako sa mga dreams mo. Kasi ikaw kasama ka lagi sa mga plano ko” and the other when his condition was revealed (didn’t you read the SPOILER ALERT?) and he sobbed “God knows how much I want to live…” and obviously I missed a chunk of the actual dialogue because I was already drowning in my own tears.

7. Although I loved the whole montage with the real life events interspersed with the rom-com movies, I wondered why Ethan never saw any of his girlfriend’s works. How was that even possible? He was never invited to any of the film premieres?

8. When asked which actress she would like to portray herself in a rom-com, Mia quickly answered Maja Salvador and I was like “What??!”. I guess she never saw the horrendous My Cactus Girl (“Peelipeens or wordwayd?”). Would it have been too meta if she actually answered Jennylyn Mercado? (FYI, the Maja thing was explained in the mid-credits sequence. Maybe she was the only major young actress available?).

9. A romantic movie will not be complete without a rush-to-the-airport scene. At least this one didn’t end with a kiss. Although I was still bothered that Mia was able to reach Immigration without a passport or plane ticket.

10. Even with the heartbreaking scenes that involved Ethan’s revelation to his best friend, the revelation to his mom, and the reverse proposal, I probably lost it the most during the Taiwan happy times montage. I guess it was because I knew that their happiness still wouldn’t last. Love just couldn’t save a doomed relationship.

In the last few scenes, Mia was still convincing the audience to believe in forever. But then the theater lights turned on and suddenly we’re back in reality confronting the truth: walang forever.

Rating: ★★★★☆

HONOR THY FATHER (Erik Matti, 2015)

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My notes on Honor Thy Father:

1. Two of the best films I’ve seen this year started with a scene involving a stray dog and both ended with a tragedy. These canine metaphors (dog-eat-dog world? Oppression? Survival? Resiliency?) completely served their purpose and were the perfect jumping-off points for these gritty and brutal portraits of evil within our society.

2. I’m not a fan of networking and this made me think thrice on risking any investments involving fast money. For my friends that did get rich through this scheme though, it’s never too late to send me a Christmas basket.

3. I liked how the little girl cast as John Lloyd Cruz’s daughter looked so much like him (eyebags and all). Proper casting doesn’t really seem to be top priority in the local industry where movies and stories are created for and to suit actors so I’m happy to see her in this role. I just wish she did much better in some of the heavy scenes.

4. In a film where every scene was excellently shot, my favorite was the savage skewering of religious fanaticism in the House of Yeshua sequence. Tirso Cruz III was just amazing, fully inhabiting the role of a pastor preaching to his choir. His magnetic presence was so strong that I actually understood why his flock was drawn to his charisma. For almost converting me into his religion, give this man his due please (MMFF jury, this is your warning, er, reminder).

5. That brilliantly-staged looting scene was organized chaos. It crushed my heart knowing that good people could really do these terrible acts out of sheer desperation.

6. Picture-perfect moments. Every single frame was just amazing. Recalling that cemetery scene still gives me goosebumps. Bravo, just bravo!

7. John Lloyd Cruz is the best working actor in Philippine Cinema now (any violent reactions?) I couldn’t select just one scene where he conveyed a multitude of emotions just with his eyes. It’s no blasphemy that he be compared to the great Nora Aunor. Yes, he has reached that level of acting.

8. The head-shaving scene was played for drama in the trailer but it was not milked for tears in the actual film. That kind of restraint made me love this film even more. It could have been an easy play on the heartstrings but it still stung without even trying. And John Lloyd’s entire aria about the evils of man and how one should learn to fight back gave me chills.

9. People will be surprised with Meryll Soriano’s performance here but she has always been consistently excellent in previous indie movies (Donor, Rotonda, Room Boy). I have some of these on DVD if you want to see more of her greatness.

10. That final scene with the haunting song playing in the background is the reason why we should never give up on Philippine Cinema. Our local filmmakers can produce world-class quality films. All they need is your support. Run to the nearest theater and watch this now. NOW!

Rating: ★★★★★

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