MOVIE REVIEW: 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 off 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: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: MANO PO 7: CHINOY (Ian Loreños, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Mano Po 7: Chinoy:

1. ‪I learned two Chinese words in college that would appropriately describe my viewing experience of this movie. Yes, both are nasty curse words.

I suddenly missed the glory days of Regal Films when it rightfully earned that crown in its bright red “R” logo (shown in their ’90s OBB that resembled a horror movie) and it wasn’t reliant on a tired franchise that just seemed to get worse with every new sequel. Seriously, the Mano Po series would be no different from an inaamag na tikoy.‬

2. I had high hopes for this one since Ian Loreños directed one of my favorite films of 2012, the father-son drama slash human trafficking cautionary tale Alagwa. I remember sobbing hysterically by the end of that movie and taking a mental note that I would never leave any child unattended ever. It was that powerful. I wondered what happened with this one. The only reason I could think of was that it was rushed to ensure a slot in the MMFF. Such a waste of talent.

3. For a Chinoy movie, there was nothing distinctly Chinoy about the problems of this family. The stories here could very well have been another family drama with all-Pinoy characters directed by Laurice Guillen.

It was a disaster from the moment Enchong Dee (as the black sheep) made a grand entrance in his parents’ 25th anniversary party. That scene was no different from the first Mano Po with Ara Mina disrupting the grand family party (headed by sister Maricel Soriano) by showing up in a backless dress with the cut dropping all the way to her butt crack (that’s how you do it, Enchong).

4. Good news: At least we didn’t get actors donning exaggerated chinky eyes and speaking in weird Chinoy accents that bordered on being racist.

Bad news: Except for the veteran greats like Jean Garcia (looking very much like the lovely Michelle Yeoh) and Eric Quizon (such an underrated actor), the rest of the Chinoy cast seemed to have been chosen because they looked the part even if they couldn’t act the part.

The worst offender was Sir Chief Richard Yap who only displayed two types of emotions in the entire movie: furious with matching nanlilisik na mata and shocked with matching nanlilisik na mata. He displayed more range playing the chef in that Chowking commercial.

5. Rose Po Que? Really? Didn’t these Chinese name jokes peak during the Bubble Gang era?

6. Sir Chief’s character was supposed to be cold and uptight because he had a damaged childhood. His mother was so strict that she wouldn’t let him play in the street with the other kids. In effect, he wouldn’t let his wife join him in bed without cleaning up first after a long day at work. But wait, wasn’t that the first rule of hygiene regardless?

7. Several scenes were spent on the rehab love story between Enchong and Jessy Mendiola (who probably watched Girl, Interrupted several times before taking on the role) but it really had no weight on the story, except to assert his masculinity and dismiss all the gay rumors.

8. I would probably go crazy the next time I see a board meeting where somebody would be presenting a pitch like “The higher the risk, the higher the reward” and everyone would be nodding their heads and smiling like it was Confucius talking and they were just blessed with his wisdom.

9. You knew immediately that Jake Cuenca’s character would be a villain because he looked so sleazy in a man bun. Besides, why would a customer like him confide to a Miladay jeweller like Jean after his fiancee broke up with him? Sabagay, kapag malungkot din ako ang unang tinatawagan ko ay ang alahera ng nanay ko.

10. I wouldn’t have been too harsh on this movie if there weren’t so many groan-worthy scenes (Enchong running after his father’s car while saying “Papa!”, Jake’s breakdown scene in the car, Enchong wailing in a van with an overdosed Jessy, “Gumising ka! Lumaban ka naman oh! Waaaah!”, Janella Salvador hugging Jean from behind and saying “Mama, don’t go!”, Marlo Mortel punching a maniac professor while screaming “We will report you and sue you for harassment!!”, and Sir Chief asking his estranged wife to dance as a gift to his daughter). Very much like airplanes, cinema seats should be equipped with barf bags, no?

11. In one scene, Sir Chief was jogging around Nuvali. He suddenly stopped and bent over and I really thought for a moment that it would turn out to be an ad for Flanax (he ended up having a Ventosa).

12. Bakit wala yun bunso sa Taiwan family trip? Kinulang sa budget?

13. Two hours and the movie still didn’t want to end. Siao siao!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: TUPANG LIGAW (Rod Santiago, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Tupang Ligaw:

1. I really had no plans of watching this movie, but because of my great love for Sarah G., an R-16 rating that promised possible nudity, and just a little over one hour running time, I thought how bad could it be? (The answer was very.)

2. I hope that Matteo Guidicelli was a much better boyfriend than actor. Although he looked really good onscreen, his face barely registered any genuine emotion. His constant preening and difficulty in delivering his Filipino lines were just distracting. One scene involved a young kid aiming a loaded gun at him and he casually said, “Delikado ‘to, ok?” like he was just teaching him the dangers of tumbang preso. Can he just release a scandal, please?

3. Matteo played Abel Rosaryo and if his name wasn’t enough of a giveaway, he was the good son turned lost sheep out to seek revenge on the death of his prodigal brother at the hands of Paolo Contis’ Señor El Diablo (yup, this movie didn’t know the word subtlety) and his caricature goons. Oh, and said Diablo ruled Barrio Paraiso (ooh, at least it knew irony).

4. Barrio Paraiso was a stinkhole full of really nice people, so nice that the teens actually queued to buy their daily supply of drugs. The other characters in this forsaken town included a widowed prostitute (Ara Mina) and her young boy, an old haciendero with a borta caregiver fond of grey tank tops, and a cowboy hat-wearing priest. The said priest asked for Abel’s help because he was so concerned about his town’s current state (“Sana matulungan natin ang mga kabataan”). The next scene showed said teens…twerking. Miley Cyrus was the devil?

5. Señor El Diablo’s goons in the movie all carried machine guns that they never really used whenever Abel was around. They usually ended up pointing them at him, never firing (sayang ang bala?), and then just using them to make pukpok the bida. Seriously, these were the oppressors that ruled the poor barrio?

I bet Abel just spent a few hours watching Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon to prep for these fights. He actually put the late, great Fernando Poe, Jr. to shame by singlehandedly killing all goons in sight with his bare hands. I swear in one scene the said goons actually even lined up so that they could get punched one after the other.

6. The said R-16 rating proved to be a disappointment because it was mostly due to the constant throat-slitting. To be fair though, there were so many shots of Abel tucking the gun in the waistband of his jeans so we had more than enough glimpses of Matteo’s flawless belly. Such a tease!

7. Flashbacks galore. Every plot detail and motive needed one. I think the entire movie was actually half-flashbacks, half-action sequences.

And because the movie was so original, it had a scene where Matteo looked up at the high heavens, raised his arms, and let out a loud scream while the camera panned out for an aerial shot. (It was original because it didn’t rain.)

8. The shoddy production values were probably limited by the measly budget. The movie didn’t even bother with retakes. One scene had the camera on Matteo just waiting for his cue to speak (if that wasn’t bad enough, he still missed his cue). In another, he flipped a table out of anger but since it didn’t fully turn, he just flipped it again all in the same take.

The sound of a passing tricycle would be much louder than the actual conversation. Even a vase used in one scene was fake because it didn’t break when it was accidentally hit by a character.

The movie’s producer at least knew her priorities. She was addressed with a Ms. on the opening and closing credits. More importantly, she played a crucial role as Tiger Rose, uhm, actually her character had no bearing in the entire movie until a last minute explanation on one of the last few scenes. This reminded me so much of another producer (ahem, GMA Films) that had to be included as an extra in every scene of all her movies.

9. One of my favorite scenes here was when Ara Mina stepped out of her room that night with her boobs almost popping out of the plunging neckline of her skimpy bedazzled black dress (with matching floral clutch) and told Matteo that she was off to work and he still asked what kind of work she had.

Uh, I surely hope she wasn’t a call center agent (or worse, Team Leader).

I was already reaching for my inhaler by the time Ara replied, “Eh di sa beerhouse.”

10. Speaking of said beerhouse, the movie’s idea of being progressive was having a transgendered prostitute dance in a club full of presumably straight men. Good move for equal opportunity, right? And then the said transgender did a somersault before eating a live chicken. (Fear the wrath of the LGBT!)

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆