FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW: PISTA NG PELIKULANG PILIPINO 2019 SCORECARD

01DDAC1E-8466-4453-A921-2F5417DBB917

Best Feature Length Film

1. CIRCA (Adolf Alix, Jr.) – ★★★★☆
2. OPEN (Andoy Ranay) – ★★★★☆
3. LSS (Jade Castro) – ★★★★☆

4. LOLA IGNA (Eduardo Roy, Jr.) – ★★★☆☆

5. THE PANTI SISTERS (Jun Lana) – ★★☆☆☆
6. CUDDLE WEATHER (Rod Marmol) – ★★☆☆☆
7. WATCH ME KILL (Tyrone Acierto) – ★★☆☆☆
8. G! (Dondon Santos) – ★★☆☆☆
9. I’m Ellenya L. (Boy 2 Quizon) – ★☆☆☆☆

Not seen:
Pagbalik
Verdict

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

1. CHRISTIAN BABLES (The Panti Sisters)
2. JC SANTOS (Open)
3. PAOLO BALLESTEROS (The Panti Sisters)
4. KHALIL RAMOS (LSS)
5. MARTIN DEL ROSARIO (The Panti Sisters)
6. RK BAGATSING (Cuddle Weather)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

1. ANGIE FERRO (Lola Igna)
2. SUE RAMIREZ (Cuddle Weather)
3. ANITA LINDA (Circa)
4. ARCI MUÑOZ (Open)
5. JEAN GARCIA (Watch Me Kill)
6. GABBI GARCIA (LSS)
7. MARIS RACAL (I’m Ellenya L.)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

1. JOHN ARCILLA (The Panti Sisters)
2. ELIJAH CANLAS (LSS)
3. ENCHONG DEE (Circa)
4. VANCE LARENA (Open)
5. RICKY DAVAO (Circa)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

1. TUESDAY VARGAS (LSS)
2. JACLYN JOSE (Circa)
3. MA. ISABEL LOPEZ (Lola Igna)
4. MERYLL SORIANO (Lola Igna)
5. INA RAYMUNDO (Open)
6. IANA BERNARDEZ (LSS)
7. GINA ALAJAR (Circa)
8. ELIZABETH OROPESA (Circa)
9. VIA ANTONIO (The Panti Sisters)
10. ROXANNE BARCELO (The Panti Sisters)

Until next year!!

MOVIE REVIEW: OPEN (Andoy Ranay, 2019)

D460CF7D-C6B4-4743-A7EB-91F01F7B65BB

SPOILER ALERT!!

Sa totoo lang, up until today wala pa ako nagustuhang pelikula na directed by Andoy Ranay (although it spoke less about his skills and more about the assigned material). Mas impressed ako sa kanya dati as an actor kasi magaling siya dun sa Duda/Doubt. Backed here by a strong screenplay, I was really surprised sa kanyang assured storytelling. Madami siyang nadurog na puso sa sinehan kanina.

Nakakaaliw ang audience reactions lalo na ang mga nagwawalang babae (bakit feeling ko may ilang mag-jowa na mag-break pagkatapos nito?). Very controversial naman kasi talaga ang topic ng open relationship (described by one character here as “liberating, respectful, and loving”) lalo na in our mostly conservative culture. Nagustuhan ko sobra yung feeling na ang uncomfortable niya to watch.

Kahit ako hindi ko yan gets dati (bakit pa naging kayo kung pwede ding makipag-sex sa iba?) until I learned na I have a few friends in a similar situation. Although naiintindihan ko how it works for them, syempre di ko pa rin maiwasan na maging judgmental habang nanunuod.

Bwiset na bwiset ako kay Ethan (JC Santos in his napaka-walanghiya best) lalo na nung basically pinilit niya si Rome (Arci Muñoz) na maging open rel sila sabay threaten na maghiwalay na lang kung ayaw. Grabe ang emotional manipulation. Napaka-insensitive pa at ginawang joke yung fake proposal (“Aww nag-expect ka ba?”).

Tapos after matikman si hot momma Ina Raymundo (open rel na eh nag-cheat pa jusko mga lalaki!) at nung nakita niya na masaya na si Rome sa current setup eh biglang ayaw na open sila at nag-propose without an engagement ring. Anong klaseng selfish na balahurang toxic scum yan? Ok kalma kalma!!

“Ang tagal ko hinintay ‘to pero ngayon hindi ko na alam ang isasagot“. Tagos na tagos naman ang linya na ‘to.

Also, 2019 just might be the year of smart, strong, independent women in Philippine Cinema. Woohoo!!

Rating: ★★★★☆

MOVIE REVIEW: LAST FOOL SHOW (Eduardo Roy, Jr., 2019)

BB0FC9CE-16A9-4BF4-9CDF-649562196F42

It was the Ang Babae sa Septic Tank of local rom-coms that needed a bit more smart humor. As a Star Cinema production, I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t have the balls to completely bite the hands that financed it (most of the in-jokes focused on their posters).

Instead, it poked fun at recent non-SC love stories (albeit some were brutally spot-on, like that Ocean Deep montage ala Kita Kita or the awkward beach dancing ala Mr. and Mrs. Cruz). Seriously, they chose Arci Muñoz in the lead and not a single callback from Always Be My Maybe or Can We Still Be Friends? Wasted opportunity.

Muñoz was irritating in the kooky Issa character, but fared better as the serious Mayessa. JM de Guzman was just okay. Both performances lacked that “wink wink” factor that made Eugene Domingo in Septic Tank and Klaudia Koronel in Tuhog hilariously brilliant.

Plus half a star each for the use of (what I assumed were) the director’s real Balanghais and that Baby Arjan reference.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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

IMG_2955

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: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: CAMP SAWI (Irene Villamor, 2016)

image

SPOILER ALERT!!

(Watch the movie before reading this and then let’s discuss. Enjoy it first. Go!)

My notes on Camp Sawi:

1. If I were to create a custom pain scale (you know, the one that doctors used to determine how unbearable your gastritis was even if you were already as pale as Edward Cullen), I would probably place having a broken heart in between a bony impacted wisdom tooth extraction and getting stuck in EDSA traffic on a Monday rush hour morning.

The physical, mental, and emotional anguish of a heartbreak really takes its toll especially on the abandoned party (read: tangang umaasa pa rin) and everyone knows that it usually takes forever to get through the real stages of grief: 1) Nasaktan, 2) Niloko, 3) Iniwan, 4) Umiyak, 5) Nagdusa, 6) Nag-Let Go, 7) Nag-Move On, 8) Nagbago, 9) Sumaya, 10) Gumanda.

2. In this light and lovely comedy that would probably end up as my favorite guilty pleasure this year, brokenhearted women could find solace and redemption in a fictional boot camp (shot in gorgeous Bantayan Island, Cebu City) where sodium-free meals were specially-prepared to avoid further depression, phones and Facebook were deemed useless due to lack of any signal (“only Mother Nature!”), nightly bonfires were held to destroy the remaining memories of your tormentor (“if you want to sunog anything”), and group activities (yoga sessions, morning jogs, film viewing of the classic Sharon-Robin starrer Maging Sino Ka Man, open forums) were conducted to assist in the moving on process.

With the popularity of hugot films of late, this type of resort would actually be a lucrative franchise. Investors, anyone?

3. Remember that brilliant opening in Up that followed the beginning and tragic end of Carl and Ellie’s love story? This movie came close to recreating that sequence, except that nobody died but Bridgette’s (Bela Padilla) poor heart. Those first ten minutes covered the entire gamut of a failed relationship and its tragic aftermath (stalking an ex on social media to check the new partner, baliwan mode while getting drunk, Google search of “how to heal a broken heart”). Bela was just so good in this role that it made me forget how much she struggled in the recent I America. She clearly had the best scenes in the movie:

• bargaining for ten more minutes on the phone (“kasi ten years kita tinawag na babe eh”)

• bitterly saying lines like “Sino bang brokenhearted ang maganda? Sasaksakin ko!”

• the pig-out scene with Camp Master Louie (Sam Milby) complete with loud munching and reminiscent of Meg Ryan’s orgasm sequence in When Harry Met Sally (“I’ll have what she’s having!”)

• endlessly ranting on getting dumped for not being Chinese (“Sampung taon kami nag-celebrate ng Chinese New Year. Hindi ba niya nakita ang mata ko?”)

4. I really liked the millennial character Jessica (Yassi Pressman) and how her life was always in relation to a pop culture event (on her breakup: “It actually hurt more when Zayn left One Direction”, on her gay boyfriend: “I didn’t know! Did you see Bruce Jenner?”). Instead of being annoying, she was just so charming throwing lines like, “He’s really old. Like ka-age mo old”.

As an old person myself, I did feel a bit happy seeing her receive her comeuppance when Bridgette retorted, “Bata ka pa. Marami ka pang makikilalang bakla.”

5. Parents, please do not bring your kids to this movie. The theme and content aren’t for them anyway. It just felt a bit uncomfortable that there were kids watching when they showed the implied shower fellatio scene. Bring your husbands instead since I’m sure they will at least enjoy ogling at the bikini bodies in full display. Or in my case, wondering how these beautiful women achieved their perennial rosy white cheeks.

6. At this point in her career, Arci Muñoz could do no wrong. As the rocker chick Gwen aka Lovejoy (self-proclaimed Kilabot ng Altura), she was endearing even while getting wasted and throwing up on fresh sheets. Her little girl voice was really funny given that it was coming out of this scorching hot woman’s body and everything she said regardless of sense connected with the audience (“Kelangan ko uminom kasi ang panget mo!”, “Kinukumutan mo ko, pang may boypren yun!”). Her character even asked the exact same question I had about Louie being seen everywhere (“Understaffed ba kayo?”).

That lovely singing voice and song, though. Wow.

Also, seeing Ramona Thornes wearing a Ramones shirt was pure genius.

7. The wild drunk scene with Bridgette and Gwen was already worth the price of admission. I had never laughed so hard hearing things that would only sound funny coming from two drunk women:

• “Kapag Chinese kuripot!” “Hindi! Kapag Chinese masipag, walang holiday!”

• “Hindi lahat ng nag-e-English taga-England, tanga! Minsan taga-Makati lang.”

8. I wonder if this would have worked better as a series instead, along the lines of Orange Is the New Black. There were just so many stories that needed enough time to breathe: the mistress Clarisse (Andi Eigenmann), Joan (Kim Molina) and the untimely death of her fiancé, the chubby girl left by her chubby boyfriend after he lost ten pounds (and resorted to baking to mend her broken heart, familiar no?), and the only gay guy in camp whose heart was full of regrets. Even Louie needed a bit more back story other than he wanted to help these people overcome their sadness. It was hard to feel for all of them and their sob stories when they were mere strangers.

9. New forms of catharsis in Pinoy cinema: jumping off a cliff as a leap of faith, the undying love of videoke (this time set to Regine Velasquez’s Dadalhin), and women stripping off (almost) everything to swim in the beach (ala Chris Martinez’s 100).

10. “Ang mga panget kapag nagkajowa sobrang blessing at kapag iniwan naman ay isang sumpa.” Aray ko beh!

11. Somebody asked me recently how one would know when a person’s already over (or close to moving on from) an ex and the last few moments of the movie perfectly encapsulated my response.

Some people would fear bumping into an ex in a public place (especially with a new partner), but that would be the ultimate test. Sure, it might still sting a bit but instead of digging up the past, if you’re able to ask “Kumusta ka? Ok ka lang ba? Masaya ka ba?” without any form of bitterness or resentment, then you wouldn’t need to book another summer in Camp Sawi.

Welcome back to the real world and get excited for your new “balang araw”.

12. Seriously, is there a place similar to Camp Sawi right now? I already have a list of names that I will recommend it to. 😊

Rating: ★★★★☆

MOVIE REVIEW: ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE (Dan Villegas, 2016)

552A7705-5D85-4ED0-9982-61821AC5446C

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Always Be My Maybe:

1. This has been really bugging me ever since I heard the title: does it also remind you of Ate Mariah with a really clogged nose?

2. Even if I’m a Dan Villegas groupie (I liked all of the previous films that he directed), I was honestly prepared to hate this one simply because of my bias against Gerald Anderson. My Bebe Idol may have already moved on from her heartbreak, but I still haven’t forgiven the guy for his (supposed) philandering.

To be fair (to me), he was always the weakest link in good movies, like On the Job. I went inside the theater in full “Matitikman niya ang batas ng isang API!!” mode, already coming up with the best possible potshots. Boy, was I in for a surprise! As the dashing dumped gentleman named Jake, he was actually really good here (a huge improvement from his work in Everyday I Love You where he couldn’t even act as a guy in a coma). Titig pa lang niya matutunaw ka na. (Excuse me while I cry in a fetal position).

3. The film itself was a straightforward, light-hearted (real meaning of) romantic-comedy without a lot of cliched external conflicts. The lovebirds fell in love, they realized their true selves (one’s egotistic and the other one’s krungy, both with trust issues), and they tried to make the relationship work. There were no real third parties (hello, Gerald’s ex was a complete tuod), no typical family problems (dealing with class differences or sick parents), no career issues, etc. Everything just revolved around the “do these two people deserve each other” premise (or as one friend pointed out, “Ang simple lang ng problema nyo”). It was actually refreshing given the hugot-driven formula recently required by the genre.

4. All of the hugots were done for laughs by the wonderful Arci Munoz (as the crazy in love make-up artist Tintin) in her YouTube tutorials. Yes, she played a gorgeous MUA and we all know for a fact that most of them do look better than their celebrity clients.

Arci was scorching hot that I swear several gay men immediately forgot their Rebel Heart Tour experience as soon as she appeared onscreen. She had that beautiful alta look with a palengkera mouth (raise your hand if you suddenly thought of Marian Rivera) and matching babaeng bakla personality (as if her unicorn doll wasn’t enough of a giveaway). Also, best ASG look ever. Popoy, you were such an idiot for letting her go.

5. My favorite tip for single people on a first date: “Surface lang. Huwag mo muna ikwento yung MMK life mo.”

6. I was a bit confused when Jake showed his IG page to Tintin and his last picture with his ex showed “12 weeks ago” when he actually got dumped 6 months prior. Was that a relapse move or just a technical error?

Speaking of social media, is it true that girls are more likely to block and delete past relationships? Hey, I do that all the time!! Uhm…

7. Best use of Aegis’ Halik in a movie ever. Perfect timing. I cried laughing.

8. Tintin had an amazing set of friends in Esang (Kakai Bautista) and Andre (Ricci Chan). Kakai, as expected, was a perennial scene-stealer (best out of the blue line: “Ang dami mong utos, may patago ka?”, second best bit: the entire Wag Tularan si Tintin monologue) and Ricci has perfected the sensible gay best friend role. With friends like them, who needs a lovelife?

9. For a change, the lovers were not eating pares (if you’re a Jadaone/Villegas fanatic, you’d understand this one).

10. Shaira Luna may be a professional photographer now but she would always be the gifted Promil kid to me. Weirdly enough, I could barely recall her spiel about the human anatomy, but I always associated her with “The sun is the center of the solar system, moving around it are the planets” which was said by a different Promil kid. (FYI, I have always blamed my mom for letting me drink Nido instead of Promil and not ending up as the next Doogie Howser.)

11. I really liked the sensual photoshoot scene. Everything that Tintin said came out unintentionally funny (“Can you unzip me?”, “Anong gusto mo gawin ko?”) that if this were a Regal movie, she would definitely be removing a magic kamison.

12. Admit it, you’ve also done the wrong send technique. And when truly desperate, you would have resorted to a wrong dial as well.

13. Single friends, listen to Tintin. Always be “confidently beautiful with a wais heart”. Huwag laging hopia mani popcorn cough syrup expectorant. Char!!

Rating: ★★★★☆