BORN BEAUTIFUL (Perci Intalan, 2019)

ede6b57d-8b45-4962-9804-64c039e12270

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Born Beautiful:

1. Originally planned as a series on Cignal TV, this spin-off of the 2016 critical hit (and a personal fave) Die Beautiful was supposedly the first five episodes of the show turned into a full-length feature. Although the decision was understandable given the material’s commercial appeal, this also served as its main weakness. The transition from TV to film resulted into some messy storytelling (several arcs felt stretched to fill an episode), underdeveloped characters, the lack of a clear resolution (a lot of people would definitely find the ending bitin), and some surface-level views on weighty issues. Even worse, we didn’t really get to know more about everyone’s favorite BFF Barbs, except that she made funny “arf arf arf” sounds during sex.

2. I was very disappointed that Christian Bables didn’t reprise his Urian-winning role because he would always be the Barbs that we deserved. It was such an effortless and lived-in performance that was sorely missing in this movie (plus the fact that the original relied on the wonderful chemistry between him and Paolo Ballesteros’ Trisha, who sadly only showed up here for a couple of scenes including a killer Mama Mary moment).

Martin del Rosario was fine as Barbs 2.0, but under all the wigs and make-up (and occasional tucking) it still felt like a committed Martin del Rosario playing Barbs 2.0. And would it be weird to say that he was just much too beautiful for the role? If Barbs (hello Taong Lego?) looked this gorgeous, then she wouldn’t be playing second fiddle to Trisha and would actually be winning all the beaucons instead.

3. While Die Beautiful presented a clear picture of Trisha’s character with her childhood dream of becoming a beauty queen, growing up in a homophobic household, and being subjected to all forms of abuse, this sequel focused on Barbs being torn between two men (and facing possible fatherhood). Medyo mababaw lang.

I would have wanted to learn more about Barbs’ personal life, including her goals and motivations, or how she coped up with her best friend’s death, or even how she learned (or what inspired) all those make-up transformations. I guess her new and improved face only merited a love triangle plot.

4. To be fair, there were still a lot of enjoyable (read: LOL) moments here. I found it smart that they were able to connect the Jamby quip in the first with Barbs’ identity confusion problems in this one (“Mukha kang tomboy na nag-aalok ng Bear Brand!”). I cackled with glee when she mentioned that Kim Kardashian’s look cost 3.5k and the 350 version was for Kim delos Santos. And should I feel guilty that I laughed at the sight of the stroke victim’s corpse and after Barbs covered it up with a Lady Gaga circa 2009 MTV Video Music Awards kukur look (“Mukha siyang malaking regla at ikaw ang pasador”)? Or that the beki friends recommended a Rihanna transformation for their other friend that died from electrocution (“Dahil lang sunog, kelangan na negra?”) and ended up with a Sia walis-tambo look (“Sia Pusit!”)? Maybe not.

The lamest humor came from the tired beauty pageant introduction segment. Seriously, how many more times should we hear that rehashed “Seventy-eight, seventy-nine, Haiti!” joke before it gets permanently banned in Pinoy queer cinema?

5. Aside from Barbs, the Michael Angelo 2.0 character had a nose lift that resulted to a face overhaul and was now played by Artista Academy’s Akihiro Blanco. It felt odd that he was one of the men fighting over her when he was the ex of Trisha in the first film.

Wait lang Barbs, tumulong ka sugurin ang karibal ni Trisha, tinawag mo na ahas, nakipagsabunutan sa parlor, pagkatapos tinalo mo rin sa dulo ang BFF mo? Hindi talaga lahat ng ahas nasa gubat. Yung iba nagtatrabaho sa Happy Endings Funeral Homes. (Kaya ka rin siguro laging minumulto ni Trisha! Malandi, haliparot, talipandas!)

From the rest of the supporting cast, I really loved Lou Veloso back as Mama Flora (“Ang gugulo n’yo. Mag-chupaan na lang tayong lahat!”), Joey Paras as one of the Way of Light pastors, and Chai Fonacier as the baby mama Yumi. What happened to the other beki BFFs from the first film, though?

6. I really appreciated some of the witty ways the film expressed its views on current issues like the death penalty (“People can change for the better”), gender neutral bathrooms, single-blessedness (“Hindi mo naman kelangan ng partner para maging reyna”), abortion, and open relationships. That entire conversion therapy bit was also brutal (literally and figuratively) that many overzealous faithful would probably get triggeredt.

7. In one scene, Yumi was graphically describing how she ended up getting pregnant through some vulgar words and hand movements. It was meant to be hilarious (and probably one of the movie’s highlights), but ended up getting completely ruined by all the bleeping (even the subtitles were censored!). Please note that the version I watched was already rated R-18, or For Adults Only by the tasked moral guardians.

I just found it funny that one of the promotional materials for this film commended the MTRCB for being “progressive”. Totoo ba? Saang banda?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Advertisements

NAKALIMUTAN KO NANG KALIMUTAN KA (Fifth Solomon, 2018)

E033EFD8-C18C-46D6-9DB9-3E17F0CC0791

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Nakalimutan Ko Nang Kalimutan Ka:

1. Whoever said that forgiveness was the hardest part of a breakup probably never lost thirty pounds and developed gastritis from crying all night and skipping meals for an entire month. No, forgiveness was relatively easy because it would usually come after the acceptance phase. The real challenge for anybody mending a broken heart would be trying to forget those damned (happy) memories where every littlest thing meant something and always re-opened the floodgates of pain and hurt.

Where even a tiny flying ipis would remind you of the happy and fun times you had with your ex and without realizing it, you’d miss the person again and start questioning what you did wrong and why your love story never worked out the way it should and if you could have done better as a partner even if in reality it was the hinayupak’s fault but you still love the person and that was still your hinayupak and huhuhu another thirty pounds lost after a month.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just easily wipe our memories clean very much like clearing our browser history after visiting PornHub?

2. In this lowest form of a Pinoy hugot movie (I swear it was one hundred minutes of hugot lines, hugot jokes, and hugot poems), Jaz (a game Alex Gonzaga) decided to literally change her heart to get over her ex-fiancé Migs (Vin Abrenica, an Abrenica who could act!). Not really sure how a heart replacement surgery in an abandoned warehouse called NSKTN Klinika (Room 143, of course!) could make her forget but at least it wouldn’t be too obvious that it was a complete rip-off of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Hmm, Walang Hanggang Sikat ng Araw ng Walang Bahid na Isip (thanks Google Translate!) actually sounded ripe for a spoken word poetry session.

3. This probably would have been forgivable if it was at least funny, but it was just a series of repetitive and corny jokes. In one scene, Jaz was applying for a job and when her interviewer (Ricci Chan) asked her to tell something about herself, her groan-worthy reply was “Di ko na nga alam eh. Di ko na alam kung sino ako magmula nung iniwan niya ako.” And when he followed it up with “Tell me your weaknesses”, she answered back with “Siya. Siya ang weakness ko.” I couldn’t believe I actually paid good money for this when the same brand of humor was available online for free on the VinCentiments Facebook page.

4. I actually felt bad that Alex wasn’t asked to do much except bawl her eyes out whenever she would hear the song Let Me Be the One (the “H”-filled version, “Shomebodehh told meh yhou were leavuhhhrnn…”). You’d be better off rewatching her amusing vlogs instead (especially the ones with newest Internet Sensation Mommy Pinty).

Sayang because Alex did have some nice chemistry with Vin. It probably helped that he was more than just a walking six-pack. I knew he could act (and sing!) ever since his Artista Academy days.

5. Not surprised with the abundant Nagaraya and Happy Cup product placements. But FrontRow?

6. In one scene, a depressed Jaz was shown in full baliw mode celebrating an anniversary with a teddy bear after suffering from UTI (Umibig Tapos Iniwan). It was played for laughs but that moment actually made me sad thinking of the craziest things that people had done while nursing a heartache. Pro tip: Never ever use muriatic acid as a chaser for your Empi Light.

7. More gasgas hugot moments:

• Kung bagay ka, ano ka? – Sana piso kasi ang piso kapag nalaglag, dinadampot. Samantala ako nahulog na, di pa sinalo.

• Kung pipili ka ng lugar, san mo gusto? – Sa sementeryo para ibaon ko na feelings ko sa kanya.

• Kung mahihiram mo ang time machine ni Doraemon, anong babalikan mo? – Babalikan ko siya kasi sa kanya lang naman ako masaya.

Grabe bakit di na lang ‘to ginawang hugot quote book?

And if that wasn’t bad enough, they even included two lengthy spoken word poetry scenes. One had an animated Juan Miguel Severo talking about a pillow soaked in tears. I think it was meant to be poignant, but all it made me feel was head over to the nearest Tempur.

(Side note: The end credits mentioned that Antoinette Jadaone served as a script consultant for this movie. Seriously??)

Kakalimutan ko na lang na pinanood ko pa ‘to. Now where’s that damn clinic to help me forget?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

I LOVE YOU, HATER (Giselle Andres, 2018)

0FCCD0A7-1A69-469C-A7D1-6764E5CD7F39

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on I Love You, Hater:

1. In the words of the great Beyoncé, “Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard. And mostly what I need from you.” (I know this was a Billy Joel original, but I’m a self-proclaimed millennial.)

Joko (Joshua Garcia) lived in his own world of lies. He fabricated a story to his family about working in New York and then he pretended to be a swishy beshie so that he could apprentice (read: be the next Darla) for Digital Empress Sasha Imperial (Kris Aquino, in her most challenging role as herself).

On the other hand, Zoey (Julia Barretto) with all of her emotional baggage that stemmed from father abandonment issues was allergic to lies. Would these two morally opposite poles attract (even with a pretend gender conflict)? We wouldn’t need an alien intervention to know the answer to this one.

In the spirit of honesty and the movie’s #SaTrueLang hashtag (wait, was that redundant?), let me say that I’m no hater, but I did not love this one at all. Similar to Giselle Andres’ last directorial effort Loving in Tandem, the weak and muddled plot could not be salvaged by the enthusiastic performances of its leads.

2. This might sound like a Julia Barretto Appreciation Post because I would be raving like a lovestruck lunatic over the next few sentences so be warned.

In last year’s Love You to the Stars and Back, I hailed her performance as the second coming of Queen Claudine Barretto. With this movie, she just officially earned her right to finally step out of her aunt’s shadow (yes, this would be the last time that I would compare her to Ate Clau).

In one scene, Zoey (who looked gorgeous with her wet, slicked back hair) attended the wedding of her half-sister where her absentee father (Ricardo Cepeda) proudly bragged about his “only daughter”. It was such a sad moment and you could see the terrible pain and humiliation in Zoey’s eyes, especially when the tears started to well up while she stormed out of the event (the succeeding scene where she sobbed in her room wasn’t even needed).

When Zoey admitted her feelings for Joko and then discovered his ruse, their confrontation scene (“Di ko alam kung bakit ako nagmahal…”) was an acting highlight for Julia. What started as an iyak-tawa delivery turned into full-blown rage and a definite nganga (did this girl really do that?) moment for me. I wonder how much of the behind the scenes issues and tension contributed to that brilliant scene. Hugot kung hugot, you go girl! Also, those seemingly naughty stares while she teased Joko were just too funny. Mahusay talaga siya dito.

(Side note: Joshua could still cry on cue, but his performance here seemed to lack the usual sensitivity and depth.)

3. Kris was surprisingly tolerable here and her supporting role was obviously stretched to ensure that she would get as much screen time as JoshLia. I guess it didn’t hurt that most of her scenes involved Sasha shooting her vlogs (for National Bookstore and iFlix, no less) so it was definitely in her wheelhouse. She also had a subplot about an Alzheimer’s-stricken father (Ronaldo Valdez, wonderful as always) and was given a couple of dramatic highlights (one closely resembled the McDo Karen ad) that probably would have been more effective if she weren’t trying so damn hard to squeeze her tearducts (as in literal na more pikit para pumatak ang luha).

If anything, I really loved her joyously colorful Happy Pride outfits. I wonder how many glitter unicorns had to die just to make them.

4. Speaking of pride, I was shocked to see an unrecognizable Mark Neumann playing one half of a gay couple (the other half was Markki Stroem). He was built up as a teen idol in Artista Academy and here he looked like a lipstick lesbian who might also own a Mio.

Why wasn’t the couple even invited when Zoey and Joko went to O Bar (billed here as Rave)? You know this was a work of fiction because in that scene where a Sarah Geronimo impersonator was performing, nobody from the crowd was doing the viral Tala dance moves.

5. Joshua must really be trying to fill the void left by John Lloyd Cruz because he had a Biogesic-like scene where he took Enervon and a few seconds later an extra was tasked to say “Ang taas ng energy mo!!”. Agad-agad??

I laughed out really loud though when promdi Joko called out the terrible food served in the wedding by saying “Hilaw nga nila sinerve yung steak eh. May dugo-dugo pa. Gross!” Nyahahaha!

6. My favorite scene was when Joko’s clan threw a surprise birthday party (complete with papier-mache lechon and cake) for Zoey. He then offered his father to dance with her and said, “Pahiram ko muna sa’yo ang tatay ko.” It was touching, heartfelt, and made me wish that Zoey had a standalone movie.

7. Burning questions:

• Why was Zoey wearing those short shorts (albeit stylish) for an important job interview?

• Would a Digital Empress really hire somebody that she met in an elevator and gave basic graphic design suggestions? More importantly, why couldn’t she afford to pay (or give a shoutout) for a decent logo design?

• Were those Instagram pictures intentionally Photoshopped to make Zoey’s father and his family look like they were levitating directly across the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

• Whenever Joko would get a hard-on, where was the actual bukol? What was he trying to cover?

• Why did Sasha give Joko some National Bookstore gift certificates and ask him to buy a new outfit? (Made out of cartolina, glitter, and glue gun?)

• When Zoey’s friend encouraged her crush on “gay” Joko by shouting “Wag matakot, maki-beki!”, was she really being a supportive friend or a staunch LGBT advocate?

• With the movie already running far too long, did we really need a recap of their sweetest moments before the climactic… hug?

8. “Kumain ka ng torta para lumaki kang borta.” And yet in my dyslexic brain it kept coming up as “Kumain ka ng borta na may malaking torta.” #SaTrueLang tayo besh.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆