HINTAYAN NG LANGIT (Dan Villegas, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Hintayan ng Langit:

1. Imagine your poor, unfortunate soul in the hereafter rooming with your ex slash TOTGA (The One That Got Away, anubuzz tita!!) and dealing with your unresolved issues. Isn’t that the ultimate definition of purgatory? (Although, if you realized that you still loved your TOTGA long after your heart literally stopped beating, shouldn’t that be the equivalent of eternal hell?)

Manolo (Eddie Garcia) quickly learned this when he started sharing a room with ex-jowa Lisang (Gina Pareño) in said waiting area (also called The Middle) that looked like the final stop before reaching The Good Place (the actual one, not The Bad Place pretending to be The Good Place). Both of them obviously carried a lot of emotional baggage (I was surprised these got through customs in the arrivals area that had an actual x-ray machine). In some weird way, this film actually felt like a sequel of Exes Baggage set fifty years later in the afterlife. 

2. Sobrang daming hugot sa purgatoryo. Pero mas tagos talaga sa puso kapag oldies ang nagbabato ng hugot lines, no? Ramdam mo na walang halong kababawan. Kasi kung namatay ka na’t lahat kakahintay sa ex mo, di pa ba matatawag na true love yun?

3. It was heartbreaking to rewatch one of the final (great) performances of Manoy Eddie, especially since 2018 was another banner year for him with equally commendable turns in ML and Rainbow’s Sunset. I would always remember him as my favorite villain in Fernando Poe, Jr. films where they would play a game of verbal volleyball during that climactic (endless) final showdown. He had this annoyingly iconic way of delivering insults just by elongating most of his syllables that would rival Noli de Castro’s Teeeeveeee Patrol. (Lisang to Manolo: “Ulol! Hindi ka naman si FPJ ano?”)

In this film, he kept teasing her the Manoy way with lines like, “Hay nakooooohh! Ulyanin na si Lisaaaaaang. Pangalan ko lang hindi na matanda-aaaan! Ulyanin na ngaaaahh, malabo pa ang mataaaaaahhh!!” (Surely you read that in his voice. He was that effective, right?)

There was an overwhelming feeling of sadness listening to Manolo/Manoy sharing his regrets on not having the opportunity to properly bid farewell to his family. Nakakaiyak lalo hay. (It also made me wonder how many of our departed loved ones still carried that guilt over their unfinished business.)

4. I loved Gina’s performance here as well the moment she screamed “Mga pukengkay!!” to the noisy kids in the hallway (who morbidly died in a tragic field trip, fyi). It was reminiscent of her hilarious turn as Judy Ann Santos’ mother slash longganisa magnate in Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo. During that bar scene where she was discussing something about local politics, I half-expected her to say “politicians” the Belita way. It was also amusing to see her go toe-to-toe with Manoy and basically play cat and mouse in full juvenile mode (“Excuse me di kita type bleh!!” HAHAHA!). Kinilig din ako dun sa “Am I easy to forget?” ha.

She had two amazing scenes in this film. The first that brought me to tears was when she delivered the line “Dahil ayokong sabihin mo na hindi na naman kita hinintay”. (Waaah!) The other one was when she called her husband Nestor in heaven and said, “Alam mo ba kung bakit sigurado akong mahal kita? Dahil araw-araw kitang pinili”, which was actually bittersweet given the eventual ending.

Also, tawang-tawa ako sa pagkasabi niya ng Zest-O as Syes-to.

5. There were a lot of details in this interpretation of the afterlife that I really liked, from the support group that provided counselling for the recently departed that were in denial, the surge of souls arriving that were killed due to tokhang, that the vow of marriage might have its limits (‘Till death do us part, diba?), and the portal that could connect the living and the dead.

My favorite one from the admirable production design was that blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sign in the elevator that stated the maximum capacity of 10 souls and weight of 210 grams. It reminded so much of Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu’s 21 Grams (the second film in his Death Trilogy) that included the line: “They say we all lose 21 grams at the exact moment of our death.” Yup, there was an actual scientific study done that determined the probable weight of one’s soul. (At least kahit sa kaluluwa man lang magaan ako.)

6. Politicians woman: “What really matters is the void we leave behind.” 

Lisang: “Pero hindi ba mas mahalaga na makita mong masaya yung mga naiwan mo?”

Points to ponder.

7. Nung nawala ang kalasingan ni Lisang sa pagtawag ni Esther na asawa ni Manolo, nasagot ang tanong sa kung ano ang best cure for a hangover. Obviously, jelly. As in jealousy.

8. If there was one thing that I learned when Manolo arrived late at the pier thus forever altering their lives, it was the importance of punctuality. I would never, ever be late to anything ever again. (Hopefully.)

9. That final shot. Goosebumps!! (Pero napaisip din ako gaano kadaming multo ang nakasakay sa eroplano. Goosebumps ulit.)

Rating: ★★★★☆

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BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance):

1. I had always associated Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu with the intersecting stories narrative where major characters in his films had their lives connected and intertwined (FYI, I really loved Amores Perros, Babel, and 21 Grams). It was one big gimmick that worked for me. I wasn’t surprised that his newest film relied on another gimmick (“one long continuous take”) to drive the story.

2. Off the bat, people would either love this or find it completely boring. There were so many insider jokes on cinema and theater and the arts that might just go over their heads. As one character stated, “Audiences love action, not this talking philosophical bullshit.”

3. Michael Keaton looked like Robert Duvall whenever he wasn’t wearing a wig. He was excellent here by the way. The mere fact that he agreed to make fun of his current status (washed up actor who used to be Batman!) was just brave. If Al Pacino could win for all the scenery-chewing in Scent of a Woman, why couldn’t Keaton? I wouldn’t be complaining if he got that Best Actor Oscar.

4. “You confuse love for admiration.” Raise your hand if you were guilty of this.

5. Edward Norton had a lot of nudity here (or scenes that showed him in his underwear or sported a boner). For a more lengthy peek on his gift, you could watch the brilliant American History X. I loved the Norton the Method Actor playing a Norton-ish Method Actor joke.

6. I was initially bothered by the drumming soundtrack. I was expecting Miles Teller to show up practicing in one corner. And then the movie revealed an actual drummer and later on a band in Times Square. I guess the joke was on me.

7. Naomi Watts’ character had this great repartee with Andrea Riseborough’s:

“Why don’t I have any self-respect?”

“You’re an actress, honey!”

8. Speaking of Watts, she was really good in this movie. I was surprised her performance was virtually overlooked against co-star Emma Stone. Everyone knew how much I loved Stone (I even named my car after her) but she was just fine here.

9. Speaking of, there was a blatant Lancome product placement that was here either as a real product placement or as a joke on product placements in movies (or both). With this kind of dark comedy, it was just hard to tell.

10. Similar to Annie, they showed a viral video that was taken from different angles. Probably the only sloppy thing in this film.

11. Did the film miss an Oscar nomination for Best Editing since it really looked like one continuous take? Shouldn’t it have gotten one for making it look like it was one brilliant, seamless take?

12. When Keaton’s character complained about getting overshadowed by Clooney, it was just a wink on the battle of the Batmans. I’d be happy to see a fourth Batman win an Oscar tbh.

13. I hope Wenn Deramas could watch this just for that wonderful takedown on film criticism. I bet he’d have a major meltdown.

14. “A thing is a thing, not what is said of the thing.” This was a sad, sad film. Watch at your own risk.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published February 1, 2015.)