MY KONTRABIDA GIRL (Jade Castro, 2012)

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You know that a local comedy’s in trouble when the funniest thing that it could offer was naming Aljur Abrenica’s character as Chris Bernal. You know it’s in even bigger trouble simply because it starred Abrenica, an actor so wooden he’s perfect as his TV alter-ego Machete. Poor guy even had to play a role that mocked his stilted and funny delivery. I guess that just about summed up the movie: a misguided, messy comedy that tried to be hilarious, but ended up being the bigger joke.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published March 24, 2012.)

SA NGALAN NG AMA, INA AT MGA ANAK (Jon Villarin, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sa Ngalan ng Ama, Ina at Mga Anak:

1. Somebody needed to trim his armpit hair.

2. Since the cast included a big star like Daniel Padilla, he got his own love story arc. Unfortunately the girl was not Kathryn Bernardo.

3. I wonder if all the Padilla boys acted the same way. They talked like there was phlegm permanently stuck in their throats. All hammy, too.

4. Mariel Rodriguez got out of bed butt naked and people started giggling. Was it because of the gratuitous nudity?

5. Wait, was that Aljur Abrenica in a Star Cinema movie? Where was his gratuitous nudity?

6. Robin’s constant posturing and pouting in this movie would make him the perfect choice for a local version of Zoolander.

7. Remember those Fernando Poe, Jr. movies where he was invincible to all flying bullets? Here, the entire Padilla clan played Fernando Poe, Jr.

8. Kylie Padilla delivered her lines like she was in a third grade elocution contest where she kept pausing and forgetting her next words.

9. I’ve never seen this many time jumps since Quantum Leap.

10. With all the splattered blood onscreen, I wonder why this movie was not R-18 for excessive violence. It was like a Tarantino film, less the art.

11. I bet BB Gandanghari could have made this Padilla movie more interesting.

12. So a character jumped on a grenade but didn’t get blown to pieces and even got resurrected by an “agimat”. Ehrm.

I’d rather play Flappy Bird.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published February 4, 2014.)

YOUR PLACE OR MINE? (Joel Lamangan, 2015)

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My notes on Your Place or Mine?:

1. I am done with Andi Eigenmann movies. I can’t recall anything she’s made that’s worth comparing even to the lamest film of brilliant mom Jaclyn Jose. This latest one should have been called Tragic Theater, Too.

2. Bret Jackson played a guy allergic to clothes and I guess those topless shots were supposed to console the female/gay viewers that shelled out money to watch this. His wooden performance was a notch worse than Aljur Abrenica and the only time he really came to life was in those scenes where he sucked Andi’s face off.

3. So Andi (I didn’t even bother remembering the characters’ names) was heartbroken and really drunk in a bar. A stranger approached her and asked that he take her home. Bret intervened, pretended to be her boyfriend, and took Andi to her car saying that it was a good thing he saved her from possible harm. Andi then threw up so Bret brought her to his apartment, changed her soiled clothes with a towel, and tucked her in bed. Drunk Andi was horny so she teased Bret with her tribal dance moves and they eventually had sex. So he still ended up taking advantage of a drunk girl. And that’s supposed to be a love story.

4. Andi’s family was apparently bankrupt and yet she wasn’t too concerned about the expensive car that she left at Bret’s condo after their one night stand. She even went straight to school after the incident. At least this girl knew her priorities.

5. Bret’s ex-girlfriend suddenly showed up to provide conflict but the only problem I saw was that her hair was chopped up by a hairstylist waiting for a lawsuit. It was short in front and long in the back with bangs everywhere. Even Billy Ray Cyrus would have laughed.

6. Why do these rich kids go to a club after school without even changing their clothes? That’s just eww.

7. Since this was a Joel Lamangan movie, there was a long sermon regarding love and fixed marriages spewed by a lawyer and/or doctor who also took a course in Matchmaking and Compatibility.

Dr. Matchmaker: “47% lang ang compatibility ng dalawang ito.”

Jackie Lou Blanco (Andi’s mom): “Eh ano ibig sabihin nun pag kinasal sila?”

Audience (muttering): “Tanga.”

8. After 30 years of watching Pinoy movies, I never thought that I’d still be hearing the line “May matinong babae ba na umuuwi ng alas-tres ng madaling araw?”

9. I guess I just didn’t get why Bret’s family would still want an arranged marriage with Andi when her family supposedly was 1 billion (for real!) in debt. How was this a marriage of convenience?

10. The tale of the disappearing hickeys.

11. Bret to Andi on his favorite dish: “Paborito ko talaga ang chicken pork adobo. Kelangan may chicken. Kelangan may pork.”

At kelangan inadobo?

Oh, and at one point Andi had to really learn how to cook the dish so the movie suddenly turned into a cooking show with Yaya Luring giving instructions. “O ilagay ang chicken. O ilagay ang pork. O ilagay ang suka. O ilagay ang toyo.”

Chef Rosebud would be so proud.

12. If there was one thing that was not so bad in the entire movie, it was Andre Paras. He was actually cute and charming and I could really see him flourishing in (better) romantic comedies.

13. In one scene, Andi was alternately using a fork and a soup spoon. How could the production not even notice this continuity error?

14. “Ma, hindi ako plano. Tao ako. Anak mo ako.”

And at that point, my brain just decided to shut down.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published May 3, 2015.)

BLOODY CRAYONS (Topel Lee, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Bloody Crayons:

1. During the height of Scream fever in the late ’90s, Viva Films attempted to create (read: blatantly ripped-off) a Pinoy version of that popular slasher flick and came up with the terrible Sumigaw Ka…Hanggang Gusto Mo. It was directed by Eric Quizon who had the audacity to cast himself as the movie’s killer and also included the entire cast of T.G.I.S. (kids today would never know the kilig brought by the Wacks and Peachy love team), plus other GMA Artist Center artists question mark.

In one scene, the killer (probably a fan of Mara del Valle) was running after Gladys Reyes who actually tried to escape by climbing up a fireplace. She ended up getting roasted, of course (silly girl, not even Becky would go up a chimeneya to run away from Ms. Minchin).

It was the kind of So Bad, It’s Horrible type of movie that you would only want to see once in your life due to severe trauma, but couldn’t resist to mock whenever it would get shown on cable. It was also the reason why a number of my friends that I forced to watch with me ended up swearing off ever watching Pinoy films in cinemas. I hope you could forgive me, FDCP.

2. Bloody Crayons would probably be the millennial equivalent of that trashy movie, only this time produced by Star Cinema and starred a number of Star Magic starlets. Most of the previous horror films directed by Topel Lee had obvious influences from popular Asian counterparts and this one was no exception (albeit more of Hollywood movies from the opening film-within-a-film sequence used in the Scream series down to the other ones reminiscent of the Final Destination series, Identity, Cabin in the Woods, Don’t Breathe, and countless others of the same genre).

I hadn’t read the Wattpad novel that this was based on so I really wasn’t sure if the lack of originality was from the actual material or the treatment itself. (I was also confused by the separate original story credit given to its three writers when this was clearly an adaptation.)

3. The horror genre had always been the waterloo of our best local directors so I really wasn’t expecting much from this slasher flick. Unfortunately, it still lacked the fun and excitement of seeing mostly annoying characters get killed one by one. Really, all I hoped for was that the cast would be killed according to their acting prowess (naturally starting with the most bano ones), but that obviously didn’t happen with Ronnie Alonte and Elmo Magalona as two of the three remaining survivors.

I actually couldn’t decide who gave the worse performance since both of them could easily replace Aljur Abrenica as the real-life Machete. Ronnie still sounded like a talking robot jakono while Elmo acted like he was a hypnotized victim of the Budol-Budol Gang (except in one kitchen scene where he delivered his lines like he was having a seizure, complete with flailing hand movements). Seriously, mas gusto ko pa si Elmo nung nagpagulong-gulong siya sa burol with Julie Ann San Jose in Just One Summer.

4. Wait, a young wannabe director obsessed with shooting a horror movie near a body of water? Oh, Dawson Leery!!

5. I still couldn’t fathom why there had to be a sequence where the entire gang decided to go for a swim at the beach and they took their clothes off one at a time while the camera voyeuristically lingered on their young bodies (slow motion shots of topless, abs-less guys and granny bathing suit-wearing girls, really?!).

I could almost hear the director saying, “Pasensiya na kayo sa acting ni Ronnie. Eto additional three seconds ng pusod nya para di kayo masyadong lugi.” Next time please leave this type of sexploitation to the experts (yes, Seiko Films of course!).

6. Speaking of acting, I really liked the performances of Jane Oineza and Maris Racal. I wish they could be given more to do in future Star Cinema movies other than the typical best friend or sister roles.

On the other hand, could somebody please tell Yves Flores not to imitate Jake Cuenca’s “akting na akting” delivery? People laughed hysterically in the scene where he was screaming “Bro, anong nangyari sa’yo??” to a corpse with huge stab marks on its neck. Was he gunning for the PMPC Star Award for Best New Movie Actor?

7. If you’d seen a lot of horror movies (or read a lot of R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike) with fake twists and red herrings (this one reminded me of The Last Act), it really wasn’t too hard to guess the identity of the killer. All it took was just a single head shot to ruin the surprise.

8. I was really interested to know more about the Bloody Crayons game since it looked fun to play during a barkada night out. Sadly, I couldn’t see any group including it in any of their parties any time soon since the rules were just too complex (relative to Truth or Dare). Who would even remember what each color stood for when all of you would be presumably drunk on Red Horse?

Also, was it just my oily skin or do crayons really not work as markers on the face? Did they use craypas instead? So this should have been Bloody Craypas?

9. Where was this movie shot? (I noticed one of the characters was carrying a Bohol bag so…) The place looked gorgeous. At least maganda ang cinematography.

10. One character’s words of wisdom to another standing on a cliff: “Mag-ingat ka ha. Pag mahulog ka dyan, baka di ka na makabalik.”

Wehhh, di nga??

11. I wasn’t sure if I laughed the loudest when the group used a rattan chair as a battering ram, or when a character was miraculously saved from a gunshot by his dog tag, or when Umagang Kay Ganda suddenly played during the final sequence.

12. BBC One recently adapted Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None into a mini-series. Better actors, better production values, better use of your time.

13. Hanggang sa horror movie may hugot pa rin ang hindi maka-move on na killer? Tengene lungs.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

SANA’Y WALA NANG WAKAS (Leroy Salvador, 1986)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas:

1. Even before the classic Pinoy LGBTQ film Do Re Mi manifested the power of female camaraderie through musical numbers, there was this movie in the late 80’s (probably inspired by the Broadway musical Dreamgirls) that showcased the value of friendship.

If it weren’t obvious enough, the girl group composed of Bianca Eleazar (Sharon Cuneta), Monique Verzosa (Cherie Gil), and Michelle Williams, er, Camille Gonzaga (Dina Bonnevie) was actually named “Friends” and their go-to song was “That’s What Friends Are For” (sung during the opening scene while they wore shiny, silky costumes with gigantic ribbons on the chest area, probably borrowed from the Boyoyong clowns).

Also, Sharon sported a female mullet. Let that sink in.

2. There was one incredibly long montage (worth one full song, I think) where Bianca and Teddy (Tonton Gutierrez, terrible in an Aljur Abrenica way) toured Luzon and it could have been used as a tourist ad for the Philippines (Have some buko juice in Tagaytay! Jet ski in Taal Lake!).

At one point, Teddy dove head first in a shallow pond to get a lotus flower. I thought he was trying to catch a frog, but then it wouldn’t match with Bianca’s ever-changing ribbons on her ponytail.

Naudlot pa ang first kiss nila nang biglang dumating ang order nila na…Pepsi! (We would always complain about product placements in today’s films, but apparently it had been shamelessly done even before. This one also had blatant shills for Master Sardines and Silver Swan Soy Sauce.)

3. It was sad to see the late Dindo Fernando again here, especially since he was one of the finest actors in local cinema that was gone too soon. As Bianca’s father slash music composer, he brought a lot of depth in his character who was prone to making silly decisions.

Upon learning that he had terminal cancer, he did some soul-searching by walking the entire stretch of Manila Bay. He also abandoned his family because he didn’t want to be a pabigat for them, but ultimately returned home for one last deathbed duet. (By the way, this scene was so effective that I was a blubbering mess when it ended. Galing din ni Ate Shawie dito.)

4. As expected, jealousy and fame were the reasons for the group’s eventual break-up. I would have guessed that it was actually Dina’s singing voice because she just sounded awful (refer to Barbie Forteza’s viral video).

There was a scene where Camille was singing drunk and another one where she was warbling while sobbing uncontrollably and she didn’t sound any different from her supposedly better days. She more than made up for it in acting though because I really loved the scene where she started throwing beer bottles at her gay BFF Manny Castaneda.

5. Sample dialogue…

• Teddy being defiant to his overbearing father: “Pigain mo man ako, di mo mapipiga ang musika sa buhay ko!” (Nux!!)

• Teddy’s matapobre father to Bianca: “Magkano ang kelangan mo para layuan ang anak ko?”

Bianca with matching flaring nostrils: “Magkano ang kaya nyong ibayad? Bilhin nyo sya ng pera nyo. Bibilhin ko sya ng pag ibig ko!” (Applause! Standing ovation!!)

6. Burning questions:

• If Bianca was so famous that she was being mobbed by fans, why did she take a cab during her walk-out scene?

• How did Bianca and Monique become huge recording stars if most of their songs were remakes? Greatest Love of All vs Through the Fire? (Sabagay, diamond artist si Nina.)

• What happened to breach of contract? How could Monique miss the farewell concert of the group and get away with it? And did Bianca really have to sing Part-Time Lover (with matching luha) after seeing Camille and Teddy kiss?

• Hindi pa ba uso ang aircon noon? Bakit ang nasa loob ng dressing room nila ay isang malaking electric fan?

7. It was so funny how all the conflicts were magically resolved during the final musical number of Bianca. In this scene, the song composed by her dearly-departed dad won the top prize in a music festival that suddenly turned into her concert, complete with surprise appearances by Monique and Camille.

Friendship was restored, a marriage proposal was done, and Manny Castaneda remained a faithful alalay.

Never, ever question the power of a Willy Cruz song.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Sinag Maynila Independent Film Festival 2016 Scorecard

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Two things about Sinag Maynila 2016:

1. Although I was happy (and grateful) to see SM Cinemas supporting an indie film festival, its strict rules on movies with adult themes clearly affected this year’s batch. You could actually feel the strain in adhering to an R-13 rating and it ended up as a form of self-censorship. I understood the wholesome image that the SM Group wanted to uphold, but some films were just not meant to be family-oriented (thus the R-18 rating). How about a compromise?

2. If these films were also meant to cater to a wider audience (read: non-Pinoys), I hope the filmmakers would put enough time and effort on the subtitles. I hate to be the Grammar Nazi (especially since I’m also in need of a good proofreader), but when you get to read multiple (!!) errors on the usage of whose and who’s (or your and you’re, and were and we’re) and you see lines like “Why did I let you stole the rice?”, it just isn’t right.

Anyway, I was able to do a marathon of all five feature-length films in one day (and survived to tell the tale).

Here’s my festival scorecard:

Best Feature-Length Film:

1. MRS. – ★★★★☆

2. DYAMPER – ★★★☆☆
3. EXPRESSWAY – ★★★☆☆
4. LILA – ★★☆☆☆
5. TPO (TEMPORARY PROTECTION ORDER) – ★☆☆☆☆

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role:

1. ALJUR ABRENICA (Expressway)
2. ALCHRIS GALURA (Dyamper)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role:

1. ELIZABETH OROPESA (Mrs.)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role:

1. TIMOTHY CASTILLO (Dyamper)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role:

1. LOTLOT DE LEON (Mrs.)

Until next year!!