MOVIE REVIEW: WHEN LOVE BEGINS… (Jose Javier Reyes, 2008)

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Where Anne Curtis played a soshal assistant marketing manager with an office as big as our living room and because of her daddy issues fell in love in Boracay with Aga Muhlach, a lawyer slash environmentalist who looked twice her age and dressed like a frat boy.

I’ve had better chemistry with a box of Choco Butternut munchkins.

Plus points for Mandy Ochoa who always gave a Famas-worthy performance even if he was just required to deliver three lines while sipping a cup of coffee.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published May 8, 2017.)

MOVIE REVIEW: BASTA’T KASAMA KITA (Rory Quintos, 1995)

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How To Eat Talangka (aka Baby Crabs) According To Alex:

“First, you open the door. And then sawsaw mo sa suka. Binigar! Like that. And then divided by two. One you eat like that. Then rice, okay? Then the other one you eat also like that. Understood?”

I mean, seriously, why wouldn’t the Princess of Bavaria fall in love with him (chimes and music and all), especially if he looked very much like peak Aga Muhlach?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published January 21, 2019.)

MOVIE REVIEW: MIRACLE IN CELL NO. 7 (Nuel Naval, 2019)

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Umiyak ako ng isang baldeng luha dun sa Korean original kahit na problematic ang story, sobrang unbelievable, at emotionally manipulative. Wala masyadong binago dito sa Pinoy version kaya mga dalawang basong luha pa rin ang iniyak ko.

Dahil hindi talaga iniba ang kwento, lumabas na napakalinis at medyo cozy ng bilibid. Yung di mo iisipin na may annual pigsa festival ang mga preso natin. Baka hindi pinayagan ang changes kahit Pinoy na ang setting, similar dun sa recent Miss Granny remake.

Yung biggest concern ko dito ay inconsistent ang portrayal ni Aga Muhlach ng isang special character. Parang hindi isip bata minsan yung delivery ng lines niya kaya medyo bumibitaw ako lalo na kapag dramatic na ang eksena. Bumawi naman siya nung dulo at lumabas ang galing ni Miguelito.

Para sa akin, yung supporting cast ang nagdala talaga ng movie. Inisip ko nga na baka mas maganda kung si John Arcilla ang bida. Muntik ako maglupasay sa sinehan nung phone call scene ni Jojit Lorenzo. Tapos daming iyak-tawa moments din with Joel Torre, Mon Confiado, at Soliman Cruz. Ang huhusay!

Pero ang standout sa grupo ay si JC Santos. Kahit ang off pakinggan nung mga bakla jokes sa kanya, madadala ka sa kanyang acting kahit na nagsasayaw lang siya bilang Sailor Moon.

If you liked the original, magugustuhan niyo din ito. If nairita lang kayo dun, wag umasa na magbabago ang opinion nyo dito. Kung di nyo pa napanood ang Korean version, available siya sa mga suking tindahan.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: THROUGH NIGHT & DAY (Veronica Velasco, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Through Night and Day:

1. I used to have an Entertainment Weekly subscription when the magazine only cost around Php100 (it’s now priced at Php400!!). One of my favorite film critics there was Lisa Schwarzbaum and although we would usually have opposing views (she had the audacity to call Fight Club “dumb” and even gave it a D grade), I enjoyed her brutal (read: honest) opinions.

I was reminded so much of her Pay It Forward review which she described as a “shameless cliché of emotional and physical damage”. I couldn’t understand her hate back then because I was a sobbing mess by the end of that film. After watching this JaMill in Iceland travelogue turned manipulative tearjerker, I finally got it. Some movies would simply throw in a last minute trope (an accident, death, cancer) that appealed to the most basic sentiments and hope that the audience would equate their reaction of crying to quality. As a sucker for three hankie weepies who would bawl my eyes out while watching a Jollibee Christmas ad, I have had enough of this type of emotional manipulation.

2. The movie started off okay as it followed this annoying couple (Alessandra de Rossi as Jen and Paolo Contis as Ben) who had been together for thirteen years deciding to finally have an out of the country trip. It was supposedly the real test of their relationship (oh just wait until you guys actually lived together) because travelling would bring out the worst in people (as seen in every season with couples in The Amazing Race). Their country of choice was Iceland probably because it was a new destination for a Pinoy romcom and not a lot of people saw the fake-looking Aurora Borealis in the Piolo Pascual-Yen Santos snoozefest Northern Lights: A Journey To Love.

They rented a van without any insurance (a sign of an impending accident), complained about the exorbitant food prices (a trip to a local 7-11 cost them almost Php4k), provided Kuya Kim trivia about the place (zero crime rate in the country), and bickered and fought and made up, and bickered and fought and made up, and bickered and fought and made up.

You know how when you’re single and you would simply glare at these irritating naglalandian couples in the corner of Starbucks while bitterly thinking “Maghihiwalay din kayo”? Exact same feeling. After the nth time of watching them fight over the pettiest things, I wished that they would just head home and never see each other again.

3. I must have wished really hard because they did break up over a lost passport and a missed return flight. She was fire and he was ice (their words, not mine) and they just weren’t MFEO. I was already good with that ending (hey, a one hour travelogue for a Php190 movie ticket in Festival Mall wasn’t all bad) but then it decided to jump three years later with Ben already engaged to another girl and Jen all bald and suffering from a brain tumor. Why? Why? Whyyyyy??

If two people weren’t meant to be, why should guilt be induced to prove that there wasn’t any love lost between them? Jen’s affliction was even used as a reason for her blatant irrationality (although it still didn’t support why she chose to wear her engagement ring on her middle finger just because of a bad manicure). Should I feel guilty about that as well?

4. Even in her bad films, I couldn’t remember Alessandra de Rossi ever giving a terrible performance. She was always this sensitive actress able to transcend any material given to her (even crap like Spirit of the Glass). I couldn’t say the same for her work in the first two-thirds of this movie. Pabebe acting just didn’t suit her well (no to baby talk and girls trying to be cute by saying “Plith”).

Plus, she looked far too intelligent and decent to be groping tomatoes in a farm for a photo op and even spitting on the ground and contaminating all the pananim. After getting dumped over that missed flight, Jen asked “Dito talaga sa Iceland? Dito mo sasabihin na ayaw mo ako pakasalan? Kung saan ang ganda ng sky?” Huh?? And she even found humor in the situation when she screamed “I will stay here in my country! Not this country. This is not my country!”. I felt really, really bad for Alex.

Even worse, she shaved her head for this mess (fyi, she was a producer of this movie with a story and concept credit so it must be a passion project worthy of a buzz cut). Brave move, yes, but let’s not forget that Demi Moore also won a Worst Actress Razzie for her shaved head work in G.I. Jane.

Side note: That scar on the back of her head looked like a strip of Play Doh. Eek!

5. Paolo Contis fared a bit better because he always had this pilyo, pang-asar vibe even during his Ang TV days that was apt for the character of Ben. Most people would probably be surprised that he could cry a river (and believe me, there were enough tears in that final thirty minutes to solve our country’s Maynilad problems). Nothing new though if you were a huge fan of that Aga Muhlach-Dayanara Torres fantasy Basta’t Kasama Kita.

6. My favorite part of this movie was when Ben complained that Jen wasn’t “decently” dressed and since she was a devoted Christian saving herself for marriage, it was a problem for him not to feel horny beside her (“Wala namang utak ‘to. Tanga ‘to eh!” referring to his shrinkage-proof member that wasn’t affected at all by the freezing weather.) I immediately (sinfully) thought, “Well, maybe she should pray over his erection”. And she did. Bwahahaha!

(It was also interesting to note that Jen completely forgot her Christian ways after getting sick by forcing herself on Ben and basically trying to covet another person’s jowa.)

7. My least favorite part was when BenJen did a duet and sang the entire version of Gary Valenciano’s “I Will Be Here” while sobbing like there was no tomorrow (okay, bad pun because there really was no tomorrow for Jen).

I hated it because: 1) I had always been averse to that song ever since it was played in a good friend’s wake, 2) all the crying felt like one of those acting workshops where a mentor would make you remember the saddest memory and force you to weep for thirty minutes as a sign that you could act and cry on cue, and 3) they sang an entire song. Again, why? To give the audience enough time to cry along with them? Repeat after me: emotional manipulation.

Side note: The dark humor toward the end of the movie (the fake dying, Jen’s sudden outbursts, etc.) felt really off, too. The hilariously robotic delivery of that nurse about the re-occurrence of Jen’s condition didn’t help, either.

8. How did I know that I was completely unaffected by all the sadness onscreen? While the couple was singing that entire (it had to be noted, yet again) death song, my brain was focused on the fly perched on Joey Marquez’s left shoulder. Malungkot kaya yung langaw mag-isa?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: AMA, INA, ANAK (Jose Javier Reyes, 1996)

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“There are more ways of gaining fulfillment as a woman maliban sa pagiging isang mabuting ina at asawa. Eh kung yan ang gusto ng Mother Nature eh di sana anim ang dede natin sa katawan.”

I really love the wit and humor of Joey Reyes’ screenplays. His insights on gender politics in the ‘90s were just spot-on. He has also mastered the art of emotional manipulation, this time related to infertility issues and adoption (in one heartbreaking scene, the adopted kid played by Angelica Panganiban asked a pregnant Maricel Soriano if she also came from the latter’s tummy). I just wish that Edu Manzano’s character wasn’t a complete caricature that turned into a monster and then had a sudden change of heart in the end.

Also, I found it funny that eleven years later, this mother and daughter tandem would be bitter rivals fighting over Aga Muhlach in A Love Story. Parang episode lang ng Face to Face with Tiyang Amy.

Rating: ★★★☆☆