SUMIGAW KA HANGGANG GUSTO MO! (Eric Quizon, 1999)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sumigaw Ka Hanggang Gusto Mo!:

1. If I were ever asked by Cahiers du Cinéma to select the best Pinoy comedy film of all time, this cult classic masquerading as a suspense-horror in the vein of Scream (read: rip-off!!) would definitely be part of my shortlist. What other local film could provide huge laughs by merely casting then-emerging younger teens of T.G.I.S. as dorks from Philippine Science High School?

One where a smart Polo Ravales spouted off scientific names (Venus ponderosa! Venus lamborghini! Venus raj!) while pointing at various Baguio forest wildlife? Where resident geek Kim delos Santos would rather shout “Diptera sacrophagidae!” instead of telling Dino Guevarra that he had a fly on his nose (also, according to Google it was “saRCophagidae”)? Where Dino, whose character was apparently not too familiar with classifications, challenged the rest to just name “formulas”? And where a fully-clothed and badly-dubbed Joyce Jimenez knew every species of pine trees?

I don’t think any of these were meant to be funny because what sounded like the first intentional joke was when Dino called a mushroom as “Bahayus duwendum”. Tiyang Amy and Kuya Dick would be so proud! (Esep-esep!!)

2. As the token Drew Barrymores, most of these kids were immediately killed by a shadowy, raincoat-wearing figure reminiscent of the fisherman in I Know What You Did Last Summer (this came out pre-social media gen so it was just so much easier to steal, I mean get away with, uhm… heavily borrowing from Hollywood movies). I also realized that it would be difficult to name my favorite (read: most hilarious) death scene because there were just too many to choose from.

It would probably be a toss-up between the one where Joyce screamed at the high heavens ala Jennifer Love Hewitt (“Sino ka? Bakit mo ginagawa sa akin ‘to??”) and got stabbed to death before cutting to the main title sequence, and the one where Sunshine Dizon dangled from a cliff six feet high and shrieked until the bands of her braces broke.

(Yes, there were a lot of screaming here in case people got confused about the genre and to remind everyone about the title, of course.)

Oh, and all of these events happened within the first five minutes of the movie! Fun, right?

3. I remember referencing this guilty pleasure when I wrote my notes on Bloody Crayons where I mentioned that Eric Quizon had the audacity to cast himself in the plum killer role while being the movie’s director as well. I guess the character of college professor slash psycho Norman (wink, wink) was just too juicy to pass up on. Plus, he had a lot of acting highlights, most notably the sequence where he shifted emotions from being Norman to childhood alter ego Freddie (wink, wink) and Eric proved that he could outham the hammiest local actors.

Btw, anybody with half a brain could easily figure out the identity of the killer (just look at the poster!) and all possible twists and red herrings even before the movie’s halfway mark. Unless you really hated Bobby Andrews and presumed that he was the bad guy because of his horrible cropped haircut.

4. Onemig Bondoc’s character here got resurrected from the dead, but he still acted like a walking Benguet pine tree all-throughout the movie. On the other hand, Gladys Reyes brought so much life in all of her scenes from her eksenadorang entrance (“Where’s the bangkay?”) up to the ridiculous death of her character who smartly crawled up a chimney and ended up getting roasted to death. (But what happened to her corpse? Why didn’t she fall down after getting barbecued? Why am I wasting even more time thinking about these things?)

Also, in an earlier kidnapping scene, her petite frame was thrown inside a balikbayan box and kicked by the killer until she lost consciousness. I must have turned crazy as well for laughing my ass off during that scene.

5. Aside from Joyce, there were several other future sexy stars that were tortured here, including Rufa Mae Quinto who played an early version of Booba, Assunta de Rossi whose character could be an Anlene spokesperson for not breaking any bones even after she jumped out of a second story window, and a pre-Patricia Javier named Genesis.

6. Burning questions:

• Why did the barkada leave the library and come out of a building labelled “GYMNASIUM”?

• Was Carmina Villarroel (named Carrie, wink, wink) trying to one-up Bobby’s haircut by sporting what looked like a half-Princess Leia?

• Where can I get the services of that DJ who played during the Halloween party, had his own back-up dancers, and engaged the audience with “Handa na ba kayong mamatay”?

• What did Bearwin “Yahooooo!” Meily’s character mean by “Para naman tayong naghahanap ng tutuli sa gubat”?

• Underrated, underpaid, and easily stripped off their license through a public trial? Sounds like reason enough to turn teachers into psychos, no?

7. I’m really curious to know the scientific name of Dino’s chest hair. Help!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

‪SAKALING MAGING TAYO (JP Habac, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sakaling Maging Tayo:

1. For a romance film to work, I needed to fall in love with the love story. I should find myself rooting for the lovers and wishing that they end up together because they were meant for each other. It just didn’t happen here.

Pol (McCoy de Leon) spent an entire night in a mini Baguio tour with his long-time crush Malaya (Elisse Joson) and yet he couldn’t find time to buy medicine for a sick parent (Bembol Roco). At one point he actually drove past a Mercury Drug store and I expected some sort of product placement, but no, he had far more important things to deal with. The only time he remembered his father was when he got his heart broken and needed a shoulder to cry on. But still no medicine.

There was an overwhelming sense of pettiness with these characters and their love problems that triggered my inner Titas of Manila. I was that person in the theater making the loud “Tsk tsk!” noise while muttering “Kids these days…”.

2. I didn’t know much about Elisse outside of her Burger McDo commercial (I couldn’t even remember her in the camp classic #Ewankosau Saranghaeyo, or maybe I just tried to repress all memories of that movie) so I was pleasantly surprised with her naturally charming performance here. Her beauty and talent reminded me of early Bea Alonzo and I could see her as a future star if given a much better project (and in this case, better partner).

She had enough spunk to pull off corny lines like “Mahal ko ang mga bagay na di masyado napapansin” and the right amount of vulnerability to deliver the heartbreaking “Sorry, okay ka sana kaso di ako okay eh”. Instant fan here.

3. Chai Fonacier’s character was unfortunately named Erna. If I was named after the slang term for shit, why would I still let people call me that? Why not say, Poopie? As always though, Chai was in a league of her own and made even a throwing up scene (how gross could this character get?) look like a bid for another Urian nomination. (Also, Black Sheep people, I expected better from you.)

4. With all of the things that the lovers and their friends were able to accomplish during that single night (they went in every possible hangout in Baguio that included a visit to the creepy Teacher’s Camp), this should have been called Nagalit ang Buwan sa Haba ng Gabi… Ulit. In the end, Malaya was even able to catch the first bus trip out of the city. Oh, the wonders of cinema!

Pero ang ganda talaga ng Baguio at night. It once again served as a soothing backdrop that reminded me of that touching moment between Kiko and Yaya Diday in Kiko Boksingero. And speaking of, did Malaya live in the same house that was used in the horror-comedy Halik sa Hangin?

5. Two of the friends were gay characters so they obviously ended up together because they were probably the only two gay people that lived there. I suddenly remembered that episode in Sex and the City when Charlotte tried to set up a blind date between her gay bff Anthony and Carrie’s gay bff Stanford thinking that they were perfect for each other just because they were both gay. Uhh, not exactly how things worked, straight people. (Wait, didn’t the pair end up getting married in the movie sequel? More reasons not to like that stinker.)

6. Why was Malaya wearing the exact same dress that she was supposed to sleep in when she rushed to the club to confront her ex-boyfriend? Wala nang ligo-ligo kasi malamig naman sa Baguio?

7. So Pol brought his father’s taxi to the concert and Malaya mistook him as a cab driver. I really thought for a second that this would turn into The Night Of, but of course it didn’t because this was still a Star Cinema-ish movie.

8. Ang funny lang nung hipster jazz discussion (hello La La Land!) tapos biglang kumanta si Moira dela Torre in a succeeding scene. You know that 30-day Film Challenge where on a specific day you were supposed to name a movie where you liked the soundtrack more? This could be my entry. Sana soundtrack na lang talaga siya.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

KUNG MANGARAP KA’T MAGISING (Mike De Leon, 1977)

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Taob ang tambalang Baguio nina Bujoy at Ned dito kina Ana at Joey.

Ang ganda ganda ganda ni Hilda Koronel. Ang sikip sikip sikip ng pantalon ni Christopher de Leon (as in bellbottoms na balls-hugging/splitting sa itaas tapos mega flared sa legs). Ang husay ng supporting cast. Pinakapaborito ko sina Laurice Guillen as Dimples Romana and Bibeth Orteza as Nikki Valdez.

Ang linis ng love story. Meron silang ibang mga problema sa buhay pero pinakita lang sa ilang eksena. Naka-focus talaga ang kwento sa bawal nilang pag-iibigan.

Usapan habang nanonood:

“Ay, andyan pala ang APO Hiking Society. Pero bakit wala si Jim Paredes?”

“Malamang kasi dilawan siya.”

Rating: ★★★★☆

KIKO BOKSINGERO (Thop Nazareno, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Kiko Boksingero:

1. In the same way that men would never understand the pains of menstrual cramps or childbirth, I think women wouldn’t also fully realize the physical and psychological effects of circumcision. The humiliation of being called supot, the mixed fear and anticipation of that chosen summer, the embarrassment in asking your father to accompany you to the nearest hospital, the excruciating agony of walking around in XXXL basketball shorts, and the horror of letting your mother (mine’s a nurse huhu!) tend to your wounded member (in full kamatis mode) would always be an essential and memorable part of a young Pinoy boy’s rite of passage.

2. In one touching scene, Kiko (the endearing Noel Comia, Jr.) was explaining to his estranged dad George (a terrific Yul Servo) that all the other boys in his school got circumcised the previous summer and that he missed it because he didn’t have a father to go with him. It was such a simple moment, but heartbreaking enough to make me text a single mom friend about how sad it made me feel and that I would be willing to be a proxy circumcision father for her son as needed.

The scene ended on a light note with George joking about the high medical fee (“Sana pala sa albularyo na kita dinala. Ako nga pukpok lang. Kita mo ang laki na!”) and it just made everything feel really genuine.

3. It was this kind of authenticity that made this perfectly-told coming-of-age film really special. It could have easily gone the typical Pinoy melodrama route, but it decided to keep things very straightforward. There were no big moments, no acting highlights, no twists, no spoonfeeding of explanations, no unnecessary frills, no pretensions and yet it kept me thinking and made me burst with emotions (yes, I sobbed like crazy) as soon as the end credits rolled.

4. I really loved the movie’s take on a modern family. We were basically just watching Kiko and Yaya Diday (Yayo Aguila) do the most ordinary things (the scene where she applied baby powder on his neck and placed a bimpo on his back took me back to my grade school days).

I smiled every time she lovingly corrected him on his lack of manners (“Para kang sira”, “Para kang sira PO”) and laughed every time she would complain that she should have picked him up from school, but never really bothered to do so.

Yayo (in a career-best performance) fully captured the essence of her character and it would make everyone wish that they had a Yaya Diday to comfort them during times of trouble and force them to eat their veggies every meal time.

5. In one emotional scene, a heartbroken Kiko (abandoned yet again) and Yaya Diday hugged each other while we were treated to a majestic view of the Baguio landscape at night. Definitely one of the best moments in Pinoy cinema this year.

6. Originally titled Pacboy and supposedly about a kid’s quest to look for his father Manny Pacquaio, I was actually happy with all of the creative changes (I heard that the legendary boxer didn’t approve of the story). Since the updated plot just had him as Kiko’s favorite boxer, it further highlighted the difference between his hero worship vs idol worship. This was even more obvious when George asked Kiko if he wanted to be the next Pacquaio and his smart retort was, “Ayoko maging senador”. Now that was a knockout line.

Rating: ★★★★★