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The Spotless Mind

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

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Pinoy – 2017

CAN WE STILL BE FRIENDS? (Prime Cruz, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Can We Still Be Friends?:

1. I had an overwhelming sense of dèjá vu during the opening scene with Sam (Arci Muñoz) looking bored and restless while her long-time boyfriend Digs (Gerald Anderson) was intently watching a show on TV. When she started complaining about the fact that they never really did anything else (“chill lang nang chill”) and that she wanted to do something different, I realized that I had been in this kind of relationship. I had been faulted (and eventually dumped) for the apparent lack of excitement and opting for a quiet and relaxed (ergo monotonous?) way of spending our quality time together. In the next scene, when Sam complained that they were having problems paying their bills, my inner meanie almost exploded with the thought, “Ang lakas lakas mong mag-aya wala ka naman palang pera!”

In another scene, she asked Digs to pick her up after work and she kept bugging him to hurry up. (Nagpapasundo na lang, siya pa nagmamadali?!) But wait, there’s more! When Digz finally arrived, she actually wanted him to do a u-turn so that she wouldn’t have to cross the street. She even had the gall to call him inconsiderate when he didn’t oblige. (Tatawid ka na lang gurl anubanaman!!)

Uhh, why was I so affected when this wasn’t even about me?

2. People expecting to see #TeamLablab in another Always Be My Maybe would be hugely disappointed since this was actually closer to One More Chance (they even recycled the “Pwede ba tayo na lang ulit?” line). In lieu of kilig moments, it was stuffed with mundane scenes of a couple realizing after nine years of being together that they actually hated each other. Its depiction of the breakdown of a relationship (down to petty quarrels over empty water bottles returned in the fridge) was so realistic that I wish it stayed true to the promise of a story about exes trying to maintain a post-breakup friendship.

3. Did Arci re-dub her lines? I noticed that her delivery in the actual movie was normal compared to her pabebe voice in the trailer. It was definitely a good decision because it just made her character more grounded. She was still an effective actress here and looked really gorgeous, but I wish her lips weren’t too distracting. Weirdly enough, they reminded me so much of Vibora, the talking serpent of Valentina. Star Cinema, has that role been cast already? You could thank me later.

In the end though, this was an acting showcase for Gerald who continued to display such depth and maturity in his role. I actually shed a tear in that confrontation scene when he said, “Tama ka naman eh. Hindi ako ang taong magpapasaya sa’yo.” Dear fellow Popsters, is it time to finally forgive him? (Putting my foot down on that Budoy bit though because it was more offensive than charming.)

4. That gif-worthy Magic Mike scene ooh-la-la! It was just funny though that the production couldn’t afford Ginuwine’s Pony so they had to create a Rite-Med version of the song. Still, all that grinding had me shooketh.

5. Juan Miguel Severo is officially the ultimate success story in local cinema. In every movie, his character would always end up with the cutest onscreen boyfriends (here it was Markki Stroem). I wasn’t a big fan of his spoken word poetry in On the Wings of Love and I still didn’t like how it was utilized here as part of the wedding vows. As soon as he started reciting lines like “Pipiliin kita sa araw na hindi tayo magkasundo…” in full “Oh captain, my captain!” mode, my eyes started rolling wildly in their sockets.

6. Mannequin challenge proposal? Very 2000 and late. Besides, who would take the video that they would eventually post on social media?

7. I still could not understand the couple’s decision to co-habitate after the breakup. I couldn’t even be Facebook friends with an ex agad agad. Not surprised that it led to the requisite Star Cinema happy ending. In TimeZone. Oh, TimeZone. So many memories.

8. “Kapag kaya mong maging friends sa ex mo, either mahal mo pa talaga or di mo talaga minahal.”

Nope, definitely not true. With acceptance comes maturity. Sabi nga ng Little Mix, “Shout out to my ex…you made my heart break and that made me who I am.”

Rating: ★★★☆☆

DEAR OTHER SELF (Veronica Velasco, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Dear Other Self:

1. As the great Basha Belinda Eugenio once said, “I want to stop wondering ‘what if’. I want to know ‘what is’.”

And so I assumed that after countless viewings of One More Chance (or probably Sliding Doors), Rebecca/Becky (Jodi Sta. Maria) imagined a world of infinite possibilities with the question, “What if hindi nangyari yung moment that changed your life? Nasaan ka na ngayon?”.

2. Would she be like Becky, a financially stable corporate slave trying to find love in the workplace? In this fantasy world, she experienced the following:

• Had a good night’s sleep because of a brownout that stopped the loud videoke session of a neighbor (this probably happened prior to global warming when people could easily sleep without an electric fan or airconditioning)

• Rode a bike to work because she would rather pay for expensive coffee than get an Uber (how she remained fresh with all the city’s smog was never explained, though)

• Presented a winning sales pitch to a client using three Powerpoint slides and was awarded a car for her great work (wait, how did she learn how to drive?)

• Developed a workplace romance with Chris, played by Joseph Marco who delivered his lines like a doctor trying to tell a patient that he had terminal cancer (to be fair, masarap sya kumain ng tortang talong).

3. Or would she be more like Rebecca, a free spirit slash pretentious travel blogger trying to find love in exotic Thailand? Now in this fantasy world, she experienced the following:

• Woke up cranky after a neighbor’s all-night videoke session (although seriously, who doesn’t wake up cranky before going to work?)

• Spilled coffee on herself and her laptop prior to a presentation, almost got run over by the client that she called “kalbo”, and delivered the craziest sales pitch that really wasn’t any better than the one given by Becky (she didn’t have a back-up file and only prepared the night before, why would I feel bad for her?).

Also, her manager asked her to speak in English and when she failed to do so, she was replaced by a colleague who delivered the pitch in…Filipino. (Huh!?)

• Chose to be a travel blogger instead (which consisted of two Twitter posts and one blog entry), flew to Thailand (I thought her family was cash-strapped?), had a pillow fight and fell in love (agad agad?) with Henry, played by Xian Lim who spoke like he wanted you to open a new BDO savings account.

4. In the end, the movie didn’t really want to choose just one fantasy world and simply summed up her experiences with the life lesson, “The best part of travelling is coming home.”

What?! This is the very reason why a lot of people really hate millennials.

5. As always, Jodi was the sole reason to watch this movie. She was endearing and funny and made the most out of her cardboard-thin characters, whether she was trying her best to hold back her pee or blurting out “Sex!” when asked to choose between cheesecake or chocolates.

In a fantasy world, she would be a much bigger star with better leading men.

6. I wonder if this premise would have worked better as a teleserye. I read somewhere that the story was actually similar to a Taiwanese series called Life Plan A or B. Definitely adding that one to my queue.

7. One character kept rolling his eyes that I wondered if he should have been named Becky instead. (He’s the one with the good hair, of course!).

8. And speaking of, in one scene, the cab driver in Thailand asked Chris if he wanted a ladyboy and he felt very offended that he said, “Uupakan ko na ‘to”. When Becky asked him, “Anong ladyboy?”, he replied with a wrist flick.

Dear Chris, do you know that one of the signs of homosexuality is extreme homophobia?

Why were there so many Beckys in this movie?

9. If this movie got one thing right, it was the distinctly Pinoy feeling of being homesick. Take it from the guy who immediately missed his bed a few hours after landing in Laoag.

10. Burning questions:

• Were the extras in the airport the same ones used during the elephant bathing scene?

• If Rebecca went to Thailand as a tourist, why did it show her working there as well? (No to illegal immigration!)

• When Becky and Chris stepped out of the theater after watching a horror movie, why was the poster The Third Party?

• Bakit ang daming natatapong kape sa pelikulang ito??

11. In Jodi’s next movie, I would be more than happy if she starred with an elephant instead. It looked like they had more chemistry anyway.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE (Mae Cruz-Alviar, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Can’t Help Falling in Love:

1. I think it was during the public bathroom scene where Dos (Daniel Padilla) was removing the heels of Gab (Kathryn Bernardo), which must have felt so good because she was having a wild orgasm, that I immediately knew I wouldn’t like this movie. It was clearly trying too hard to wring out laughs by placing its characters in the most absurd situations. That scene was capped off by strangers entering the room and looking disgusted even if it was completely obvious that nothing kinky was going on (hello, his head wasn’t even under her skirt!).

It was a shame really because Daniel and Kathryn were so game all throughout this movie even if the material failed to capitalize on their palpable onscreen chemistry.

2. I had been crowing about Daniel’s natural charms (reminiscent of his uncle Robin’s) in previous movies so the bigger surprise here for me was Kathryn. Not only did she look so fresh and lovely (a vision in yellow during her grand entrance! radiant in black during the wake!), but she also managed to drop most of her annoying acting tics.

Whatever decongestant she took worked because she didn’t sound as oddly nasal as before. She also managed to tone down her pabebe delivery and she was really effective in most of her dramatic scenes (my favorite was her quiet sumbat moment outside the police station; “Nagmahal ka na ba? Minahal ka na ba?”). The only thing left for her to work on would be controlling her eyes because she would resort to unintentionally widening them while speaking (nandidilat for no reason).

Anyway, I just made a mental note to buy Pond’s as soon as the stores open today.

3. As a rule, Star Cinema characters should avoid getting drunk in bars because they would always end up in sticky situations (literally and figuratively?) after. I didn’t buy the ridiculous premise of these two ending up married after a crazy night of partying (hey, this wasn’t Vegas and none of them were Britney; besides, were they carrying all the legal documents that night to get a marriage license issued on the spot?).

None of the succeeding events made a lot of sense as well. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to any of my lawyer friends because their eyes might end up rolling out of their sockets in the scenes where Gab interviewed Dos’ ex-girlfriends to prove his impotence or Gab pretended to make out with her girl friend in Sogo while Dos took pictures of them as proof of homosexuality (they ended up getting arrested after for supposedly creating a porno, wtf?!).

In one scene, Gab dressed up as a taong grasa because she was supposedly baliw sa pag-ibig and insanity was one of the major grounds for annulment. I guess they were to blame for hiring a lawyer from a firm called Hulog ng Langit. (Terrible, terrible screenplay, I tell you.)

4. Did we really need those cameos of Zanjoe Marudo, Ejay Falcon, and Piolo Pascual? Even a bald Daniel Radcliffe made a surprise appearance. Why create unnecessary distractions on an already messy story?

5. Since there was nothing original in this movie, I wasn’t surprised at all that Matteo Guidicelli played the third wheel yet again and that his character (unfortunately named Jason) was villified for being a controlling boyfriend. So basically he loved his girlfriend and supported her for six years even if she only loved him back for security and stability and yet he was the bad guy just for wanting what was best for her. Oh-kay!

Also, they called each other Bud so I guess it was meant to be a friendzone experience right from the start.

6. Of course there would be a reason to go out of town! Destination of choice? Argao, Cebu. A tour of the city’s old churches, cliff diving, coral reef diving, motorcycle rides along the cliffside roads, I was surprised they didn’t use these instead for the channel’s summer station ID.

7. I wish there were more of the small moments that genuinely made me smile (Dos offering a basahan to Gab while she was crying, or Dos distracting Gab with his love notes written on napkins). The scene where Dos was making his huling habilin to his extended family could have easily been milked for laughs and tears, but it just fell short of being great.

I have enjoyed a number of past rom-coms by Direk Mae (Bride for Rent, Everyday I Love You), but she was left with very little to work with here.

8. For every realistically heartfelt line like “Kapag natikman mo pala, nakaka-adik ang umasa”, there were even more empty platitudes like “Mas pipiliin ko ang isang bukas na nandun ka, kesa sa isang milyong bukas na wala ka.”

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough should be required viewing for Star Cinema’s writing team. Seriously.

9. I think I developed an acute case of tinnitus when Gab serenaded Dos with her own version of Panalangin. And that was minutes before his critical brain surgery. Pigain nyo na lang ang apdo ko, but take that portable Magic Sing away from her!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

NORTHERN LIGHTS: A JOURNEY TO LOVE (Dondon Santos, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Northern Lights: A Journey to Love:

1. It must be tough to be a Piolo Pascual. When people commonly refer to you as Papa, there’s this high level of expectation (or fantasy) that you’re constantly required to fulfill (or satisfy). I’m not at all surprised that at the ripe old screen age of 40, he still plays these cutesy roles that merely require him to flash his gorgeous smile and ensure that hundreds of Soen panties (and a few Bench briefs) fall inside the cinema.

But having him deliver lines like “Are you London Bridge? Are you falling?” while making pungay eyes just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s time to pass on that Mikimoto crown.

Speaking of, he had several topless scenes while flirting with different women (in one, he was in a sleeping bag on a snowy hill, jusko pneumonia! shrinkage!) just to remind everyone that he’s straight, Straight, STRAIGHT!! (Maybe he should rethink that man bun then.)

2. Everything here screamed generic (yes, it was the Rite-Med version of any Nicholas Sparks adaptation) and this was evident as soon as the movie started with a discussion about the Northern Lights (uhh, duh!). Apparently, the souls of the dead (including those of animals!) would win a free one-way trip to Alaska and become part of the Aurora Borealis.

When the kid (Raikko Mateo) asked his mother (Maricar Reyes), “Puwede po ba ako pumunta diyan?”, I immediately knew that one of them wouldn’t survive before the end credits.

3. This was the kind of original movie where:

• Strangers would bump into each other in an airport as part of the Meet Cute scene

• A douchebag character would continuously harass a girl, but it would be considered romantic because the said douche looked like Papa P (who sounded even douchey-er with his Diether Ocampo American accent)

• Characters would speak in unison several times because it was supposedly cute

• A romantic leading man would say “Lilingon ka rin in 3, 2, 1…” like we hadn’t seen it in previous rom-coms

• A girl would recall an experience that sounded like rape (“Nilasing niya ako at paggising ko wala na akong saplot”) and it would be played for laughs

• Somebody would give an instant lecture about the Treaty of Paris to give more perspective about their location

• Music and Lyric’s Way Back Into Love served as the closing theme

4. Yen Santos was just too bland for the role of a girl in search of her missing OFW mother (her reason: “Kahit ganito na ako katanda gusto ko pa rin tinitirintas nya ang buhok ko”). Leah Olivar would probably be laughing in her Mrs. Pizza costume right about now.

Seeing a fresh face onscreen was definitely a welcome change, but I wish she had shown a bit more personality. Her delivery sounded very malamya that I was constantly reminded of that Shield bath soap nurse and I expected her to suddenly burst into song (“Di biro maging nurse, dapat marunong sa sakit. At marunong mag-alaga, yun bang may malasakit…”).

In one scene, she was supposed to do a bad cover of Air Supply’s All Out of Love and she was just terrible in pretending to sound awful (how was that even possible?). Oh well, not everyone could be Nico Antonio.

5. Also, Yen’s character had the nerve to question Piolo’s constant state of toplessness amidst the freezing weather and yet she had a scene where she was only wearing an oversized boyfriend shirt with one side barely hanging on her shoulders and part of her back exposed like she was in an Olay commercial. Guuurrrrrl!!

6. Although Raikko had some really cute moments, the real saving grace here was Glydel Mercado in full Ate Vi in Anak mode as the mother (!!) of Yen. Her character’s motivations were not clear, but she did cry a river that was enough to remind everyone why she was a Grand Slam winner for Sidhi.

7. Why did the Northern Lights look like CGI?

8. The denouement with a dead character communicating with the living loved ones through video was directly stolen from My Life. It could have stopped there but since this was a Regal Films co-production, of course it needed a happy ending. On the beach. Hello Pico de Loro!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

I’M DRUNK, I LOVE YOU. (JP Habac, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on I’m Drunk, I Love You.:

1. I recently read this Cosmo online article about the glorification of the Nice Guy syndrome in the Jollibee Vow ad. It basically stated that the said Nice Guy was actually a toxic idiot who often presented himself as the sacrificing fool to garner his female object of desire’s (and the world’s) sympathies. To a certain extent, it could also apply to a Nice Girl or Nice Gay or anybody who constantly depicted themselves as the kawawa party for being friendzoned.

This was the reason why I didn’t really feel all that bad for Carson (Maja Salvador) who had been salivating over her BFF Dio (Paulo Avelino) for more than seven years. She chose to go (literally) gaga over him even if he never really showed any interest in her other than as a friend. She answered his every beck and call even if it would usually be something petty like choosing the perfect pair of socks to wear (“Gusto ko ng input mo as a friend”). She showed incredible devotion and made personal sacrifices in the hopes that one day he would be able to reciprocate her feelings.

In short, everything was her fault and she chose to be tanga sa pag-ibig. If I were her friend, the only advice she would be getting from me would be a huge Maricel Soriano bitch-slap on her face (I’m judgmental like that).

2. Besides, I couldn’t really see anything nice or good or redeeming about Dio except that he looked like Paulo Avelino. When Carson professed her love and he reacted with a pity kiss, he was even being less of a friend and more of a jerk.

I suddenly remembered my past life when a friend wanted to drown herself along the malumot beach of Puerto Galera because I told her I couldn’t force myself to love her back. Brutal, yes, but at least I wasn’t being paasa. (And I think everyone would agree that aside from greedy taxi drivers and corrupt politicians, the paasas were the ultimate vermins of this earth).

3. Even with two major characters that deserved pag-untugin and a flimsy plot that didn’t really merit a full-length feature, this movie still had loads of charm coming from its actors and enough funny moments that carried it through.

Most of the credit should definitely go to Maja for simply being a believable and flawed lovesick puppy. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was actually just playing a modified, less glamorous version of her real self. Whenever she would say something like umebak (or an equally jologs-sounding word), it just felt natural and made her character a bit more endearing. And surprise, she did have an ebak scene here.

My favorite bit was when Dio told Carson, “Relax lang, yang puso mo” and she answered with “Nasa ‘yo” and immediately took it back with “Lalalalalalala charot lang expectorant”. It felt so spontaneous and incredibly sad and reminded me that I was watching an Urian winner.

4. I really liked the scene where Carson used her iPod like a Magic 8 ball with her asking questions and letting random songs provide the answer. Inasmuch as I loved and supported OPM though, I still wished that the songs used were a bit more relatable (not even one commercial Tagalog or foreign song on her playlist? I know, I know, the rights would have cost a lot of money, but I’m 100% sure she would have had Salbakuta’s S2pid Luv there).

Speaking of songs, most of the lyrics that were played during key moments were too on the nose when the actors’ performances should have been enough to convey the emotions. It was just too soon to have another The Breakup Playlist (or Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa).

5. Nakakatawa yung Kung Ako si John Lloyd song. Especially since it reminded me of One More Chance where Maja played another jilted lover. “Ay lab yu en ay wil tel yu ebridey. Ebridey antil yu porget da tings dat herth. Eep onli it cud bee dan, bat eet kennat bee dan.”

Also, the car scene here where she ended up in the back seat felt like a reversal of fortune when Basha sobbed as a third wheel for Trisha and Popoy.

6. I wasn’t too happy with the extraneous Jason Ty character and subplot. Don’t get me wrong, Dominic Roco played that Dimples Romana slash Ricci Chan role to a tee and he delivered some of the most hilarious lines in the movie (“Wag mo sya sasaktan papa-jombag talaga kita kay Claudine”, “Happy Horse for the happy whore!”, “Taray, seven years a slave”), but another gay best friend acting as the voice of reason slash source of comic relief deserved a side eye from fairy godmother Rupert Everett.

Also, his biggest love problem was that he said “I love you” after a one night stand. And his happy ever after involved a Grindr hook-up and a possible threesome. Dai, ang babaw ha.

7. Why were they all being mean to Pathy (Jasmine Curtis-Smith) for being vegan? I, too, would never eat bagnet (I’m just not fond of pork’s texture) so I felt closest to her character. It wasn’t her fault if her parents (probably Pamela and Thyro) named her with that unfortunate H. Also, why was she considered a villain for being an elitista that got featured in Young Star? She was actually a very charming and nice person who…wait, didn’t Iza Calzado also play the sweetest third party in Starting Over Again? And wasn’t she also named Patty? #HustisyaParaSaMgaPatty

8. “Tangina ang sakit ng truth, no? Lalo na kapag isinasampal sayo.” If Jason Ty were her real friend, he would have given her that Maricel Soriano bitch-slap that she deserved much, much earlier.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MY EX AND WHYS (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on My Ex and Whys:

1. At the start of the movie, Cali (Liza Soberano) posted an interesting question on her BakitList blog: “Bakit ba ang tao kahit alam naman na masasaktan eh hindi nagsasawang magmahal?”. It was a universal thought that demanded a response and the movie’s biggest failure was that it never really tried to expound on its answer of “Mas tanga ang hindi magmahal.” Maybe Cali should have added another set of Whys on her list.

2. I would have to admit that I was very excited when this project was announced because I had always been a huge fan of the LizQuen loveteam and I deeply trusted the magic of Cathy Garcia-Molina. I really felt bad that the material didn’t live up to my lofty expectations in the same way that Dolce Amore started to disappoint me post-amnesia.

One of the strengths of this tandem was that they could stick to being pabebe and it wouldn’t come out as annoying. They easily reminded anyone of their youth, a time when it felt great to be wild and innocent and free and stupid and lovesick. But even better, they demonstrated in Everyday I Love You and Dolce Amore that they could deliver more as actors. They just needed a solid story to back them up and this wasn’t it.

3. Here’s my own list of Star Cinema tropes that they hopefully get rid off in future rom-coms (try to list all of the previous movies that had this, it would be fun!):

* One of the leads needed to work hard to support her low-to-middle class family that heavily depended on her

* Rain, lot and lots of rain, in slow motion, involving Enrique Gil (here as Gio)

* Greek chorus of BFFs that serve as one of the leads’ conscience/voice of reason/narrator of feelings

* Family of boys, and with Joey Marquez as the head of the clan and Joross as comic relief

* Contrived reason to shoot out of town/the country (this time in gorgeous Korea)

* Last minute dash to the airport before the penultimate professing of love (and possible kiss, stress on possible)

4. It was hard to empathize with Cali’s bitterness and hurt when we never really understood her love story with Gio. Nothing was shown after spending seven minutes (of heaven) with him. What made her love him aside from his promise of fidelity?

Also, her reason for breaking up with him felt completely trivial. She only heard a possible tryst over the phone and immediately broke up with him without hearing him out? Sure, she was traumatized by her cheating father but was that reason enough to let him go (especially since she knew he was drunk)?

Ang babaw girl! There are other worse reasons to break up with a cheating boyfriend. Minsan makikita mo na lang siya may ibang ka-date sa mall. Or may tatawag sa cellphone nya saying na miss na siya at mahal na mahal sya sobra. Or makikita mo ang messages ng landian sa Facebook inbox at yung last ay magkita sila sa isang club. I am not just my mistake mong mukha mo!! But I digress.

5. I wasn’t keen on the choice of using split screens especially since this style was closely associated with another popular loveteam. I was just happy that God Gave Me You never played in the background.

6. I really liked how the movie was unapologetic on its portrayal of gender differences. One person mentioned that it was innate for men to cheat (it’s just in their nature to be polygamous). Joey’s character was dating two women and the audience found it funny. Ara Mina’s character as the long-suffering mother of Cali on the other hand looked forgiving and bordered on being gaga. I just wished they were able to explore this further through Cali and Gio.

7. My favorite parts were elevated by such great performances. This was obviously Liza’s movie because she was just so good in every scene (lalo na kapag umiiyak wow lang ha), but the best one had her drunkenly putting down her guard and admitting her jealousy and unwavering feelings for Gio.

Enrique had less to do here although he delivered unli-charms whether he was taking a sad face picture (Hongkyuuuut!) or hilariously pretending not be seduced by a woman’s huge boobies.

Even Ryan Bang had his intentional and unintentional comic moments. Lakas ng tawa ko sa “Di mo alam dito sya mag-propose sa’yo? Oh ngayon alam mo na”. No wait, I laughed even harder in the “third wheel” joke. He was a standout in this movie.

8. I felt bad when one character verbalized that working as a call center agent was a thankless job. I felt worse (as a previous BPO manager) when Cali terminated a call even with an incredibly irate customer still talking on the other end of the line.

Speaking of jobs, I found it odd that Cali became an internet sensation given that she rarely blogged and most of her conversations with Gio looked like they happened on Twitter. Don’t even get me started on the dubious bag endorsement and book deal. I would believe that once I read The Untold Story of Bilog and Bunak biography.

9. “You give me hope…” played and the camera focused on Liza’s (yup, Hope’s) face. What a nice little touch!

10. For all my complaints, I still couldn’t deny that I felt like a giddy tweener during that faux proposal scene amidst a row of gingko trees. It was such a magical sight straight out of a Koreanovela. I would have also said yes.

Booking that trip to Korea in 3, 2, 1…

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

ACROSS THE CRESCENT MOON (Baby Nebrida, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Across the Crescent Moon:

1. If the Mocha Uson Blog were to venture into the film industry and dramatize its controversial posts, this would be the end product. I could easily imagine all the Dilawans instantaneously frothing at the mouth while watching this blatant propaganda movie that justified extrajudicial killings, supported the death penalty, and made living heroes out of PNP Chief dela Rosa and President Duterte (whose presence was onscreen for a significant amount of time that he should have received secondary billing).

Regardless of one’s political stand though, everyone would definitely agree that this was a poorly-made, self-important flick that thought too highly of itself just because it had subtitles.

2. The opening action scene alone was already problematic with machine guns being fired but nobody was getting hit and explosions that just came out of nowhere (nasaan yung nagpapasabog? Nasaan?!). It also had a long chase scene that started late afternoon on the road and ended up post-Primetime Bida in a forest village.

3. The director’s idea of dynamism and movement was to have two characters having an argument walk from the kitchen to the living room to the bedroom. Mga bes, paano kayo magkakaintindihan kung paikot-ikot kayo sa bahay?

4. I already used a thesaurus but I couldn’t find the most appropriate word to describe how awful the performances were. I still haven’t fully recovered from his tragic acting in last year’s Tupang Ligaw and now Matteo Guidicelli has returned to torture me yet again. The good news was that he looked like an Urian winner next to the girls that played his wife and sister-in-law.

Every time one of them spoke (in full akting na akting mode, of course), I felt like I was on the verge of an aneurysm. I never knew that watching a movie would now be considered buwis buhay.

In one scene, the teenage sister (who must have thought that she was in a grade school elocution contest) welcomed back her older sister with the line (please note that her eyes were wide open and hands clasped), “Oh, you must be starving!”. Tengene, patayin nyo na ako!!

5. Even with the in-your-face product placements for Tanduay, Beer na Beer, and Colt 45, nothing could beat the mini-commercial for Cobra energy drink.

Previous scene –

Matteo: “Kelangan natin mahanap agad ang mga biktima bago sila mapadala sa Malaysia!”

Next scene –

Matteo: “Ate, may malamig na Cobra diyan?”

6. When Matteo learned that his wife was pregnant, they decided to celebrate with drinks by the pool. He must have been so happy that he threw her in the water not once, but three times! Why?!

7. My favorite lines from the movie:

• Matteo to Joem Bascon: “Ikaw ba ang anghel ko? Anghel dela guwardiya?” Yihee!!

• Also Matteo to Joem: “Ayoko ng partner na may bisyo: alak, babae, sugal, yosi.” Ay strict boyfriend, er, partner!

• Sandy Andolong to Matteo’s wife: “Huwag kang mag-alala Emma. Bukas luluhod ang mga tala.” Ooh, Sharonian!

• Christopher de Leon sharing his words of wisdom: “Ang buhay ay parang buwan. Bilog yan. Umiikot din yan.” I kennat!!

• Joem inside a steel container: “Napakainit naman dito. Anong akala nila sa atin, baboy na ibebenta por kilo?” Dear, you should have requested for first class accommodations from your kidnappers.

• Kidnap victim on their whereabouts: “Binilang ko. Mga sampung minuto lang ang isla mula dito.” Koya, wala kang relo. Manual counting of seconds? Wow, how to be you po?

8. Burning questions:

• Were Matteo and Joem required to watch Street Fighter before filming? Why did their fight scenes always start with a drop kick?

• When Matteo got shot on the arm, why did he go home hours later without having it checked in the nearest hospital?

• Why were the kidnapped victims’ pictures all taken from Studio City?

• Where can I learn to make that excellent bar graph Powerpoint presentation showing the number of babies sold per month?

• Seriously, why was this movie even made?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

FOOLISH LOVE (Joel Lamangan, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Foolish Love:

1. I have a lot of single women friends, but thankfully none of them have ever reached the level of desperation of Virginia (Angeline Quinto). After getting dumped by her gay boyfriend and with the end of the world coming soon (read: her 30th birthday), she decided that her eggs had been unfertilized enough and she needed to find a partner by hook or by crook (or in this case, by Facebook). Let me count her kagagahan ways.

2. Together with her very smart friends, they stalked her Sasmoan childhood sweetheart on FB, but never bothered to check his profile picture. Through some miracle, they were able to get the addresses of all the Rey dela Cruzes, especially the half dozen that lived in the Quiapo area. As expected, none of them were the real Rey and they just ended up having their appearances mocked (one was ngongo, the other a midget, and the rest were just your local tambays sa kanto).

Everyone knows that the most logical thing to do was to go back to Pampanga and ask his relatives for any information on his whereabouts, but I guess the cute search was a must in the rom-com formula.

3. When her plan failed, Virginia (wink, wink) decided to visit her mother and while on a bus, met this handsome stranger (EJ Falcon) that she just couldn’t resist flirting with. Nagpaakbay agad si gaga even if it was so obvious that he was a thief. I think she immediately fell in love with him after this conversation:

“Ang galing ng moment na ‘to. Ikaw si Virgie, ako si Vhal. V ka. V ako. Ang galing no?”

4. After all these mishaps, she decided that the best thing to do was to enter the convent and become a nun. I wasn’t surprised because she was very religious. In one scene, she was being eaten by “Rey” (Jake Cuenca) and the camera focused on her delirious face while she was screaming “Thank you Lord!”.

By the way, she met “Rey” while he was sitting on a bench wearing a hoodie under the pouring rain. She asked this stranger to enter her house with the reason “Masyado syang gwapo para maging magnanakaw.” Yup, some women never learn.

5. I wasn’t sure why they forced Angeline to deliver some lines in English (“I was like a timebomb. Tik tak tik tak!”), but I guess it was part of the movie’s weird humor. I mean Vangie Labalan’s face was plastered on a beauty soap for crying out loud.

I’m still crossing my fingers for that Angeline Quinto-Maja Salvador comedy where they both play John Robert Powers instructors.

6. The ToMiho loveteam had a chunk of the screen time even if they couldn’t act to save their lives. I was close to throwing up every time they called each other Leading Man and Leading Lady (ironically, in a movie where they were playing support).

The only decent performance here was from Cai Cortez. I bet she would have made a great leading lady.

7. In one scene, Virginia apologized to “Rey” for offering 3-in-1 coffee. He replied with “Hindi ko nga alam bakit ang iba nagbabayad ng mahal para sa kape.” Aba walang pakialamanan! Ikaw nga nagpapaulan sa bench na naka-hoodie!!

8. In a bizarre last act twist, the movie turned into 50 Shades of Grey with all the sado-masochism, including a strangulation sex scene. Huwat?!

9. At this point, I really shouldn’t be surprised anymore. The movie was already as dumb and as desperate as its lead character. Fittingly enough, it ended with this crazy scene with a pregnant Virginia running around in a cemetery. Dead.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

ILAWOD (Dan Villegas, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ilawod:

1. For me, Pinoy horror stories with their local settings, deeply-rooted mythologies, and fascinating folklore would always be much scarier than any Hollywood flick. Whereas Linda Blair and her spinning head made me cackle with glee, I almost peed my pants when Manilyn Reynes was stalked by a horde of aswangs led by Vangie Labalan. I could never picture Valak looking at me through a mirror, but I could easily imagine that dead nun killed during the Bataan Death March in the Magandang Gabi Bayan Halloween episode staring right at me from outside my bedroom window. This must be all coming from my childhood belief that Count Dracula and every other foreign monster would never even bother taking a 21-hour flight to the Philippines.

2. I really tried to like this movie especially since I was easily drawn to the very Pinoy story of the Ilawod, a water elemental living in streams known to dominate human bodies and suck the souls out of them (the name itself literally means downstream). Unfortunately, it wasn’t able to differentiate itself from other horror movies with genre tropes that included an exorcism and possession.

There was a scene with a kid drawing black rings that could have been an early promo for the new Rings sequel. The real face of the Ilawod looked like a monster from Pan’s Labyrinth. The elevator footage eeriely resembled that viral video with Elisa Lam (Google it!). Even the haunting scenes involving water (dripping from the ceiling, puddles on the floor) in the condominium seemed to have been borrowed heavily from Hideo Nakata’s Dark Water.

3. In the opening scene, an old lady was possessed by the Ilawod and when she saw Ian Veneracion (playing a daddy daddy beat reporter), her long pointed tongue started flailing like crazy and my very first thought was, “Why wouldn’t it?” Veneracion just didn’t age since his Anak ng Demonyo days and I could easily see hordes of women and gay men doing the exact same thing when they see him in person, with or without spirit possession. (Where did you find the Fountain of Youth, Ian? Tell us please!!)

4. I might have missed it, but I couldn’t understand why the Ilawod got really mad at Ian and wanted to exact revenge on him and his family aside from the fact that he didn’t believe in the supernatural. I’d rather assume that she was just being bitter for getting rejected by a hottie.

5. I kinda felt bad for Therese Malvar since she’s currently one of the best young actresses in Philippine cinema and she got stuck playing an elemental with heavy makeup and a brushed-up wet look hairdo while sporting Mother Lily’s magic white kamison. I also couldn’t believe that Ian’s teenage son never once bothered to ask why she never changed outfits or why she was always making tambay by the poolside.

6. Speaking of teenagers, I was really surprised at how much Xyriel Manabat has grown. Her transformation made me feel even more old. But wait, why didn’t she look like any of her parents (the mother was played by Iza Calzado)?

In one hilarious scene, she was attacked by the Ilawod so she ran to her parents’ bedroom but the door remained locked. Her parents kept knocking and pulling on the knob but the door just wouldn’t budge. In her state of panic, Iza then asked the most logical question: “Ano na bang nangyayari sa mga anak natin?” HUH?!!

At least after that incident, she regained her bearings and got the services of Father Pnoy to bless their unit.

7. With its blatant sexualization of kids, I was surprised that the movie still took the safer, more sanitized route. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t suggesting a love scene, but I would have preferred it if not everything (even just a simple kiss) were merely suggestive. Nothing wrong with a horror movie making people squirm in their seats and making them feel uncomfortable.

8. If the Undin made me stay away from the sea, this one made me reconsider making tampisaw in a batis.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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