PAUWI NA (Paolo Villaluna, 2016)

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Tawa. Iyak. Tawa. Iyak. I never expected a pedicab family road trip film to bring out all of these emotions.

Where do I sign up to be a member of the Chai Fonacier Fans Club? In an ensemble of Philippine Cinema greats that delivered exceptional performances (Bembol Roco, Cherry Pie Picache, Meryll Soriano), she still stood out as my favorite character here whether she was spouting lines like “Love cannot pay the bills, only the AFAM can” or complaining about her stinky pepe.

Stretched quite a bit with a pretty conventional ending, but overall still worth the journey.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published August 16, 2017.)

 

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MAYNILA SA MGA KUKO NG LIWANAG (Lino Brocka, 1975)

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A tragic tale of one man’s loss of innocence. Social realism at its finest.

I think Insiang is the best Filipino film of all time. After rewatching Maynila Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, I might have to reconsider.

What I love most about it is that it has all the qualities of poverty porn but it feels natural and never exploitative.

It’s sad that Bembol Roco has been relegated to character actor roles now. He’s just too good in this movie. It must be the Brocka touch.

The young Hilda Koronel is inarguably the most beautiful face ever to grace Philippine cinema. Bar none.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published August 12, 2013.)

PANDANGGO SA HUKAY (Sheryl Rose Andes, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Naawa lang ako kay Iza Calzado dito. Sobrang committed niya sa role kahit biglang pinag-shinger siya habang pinapanood si Bembol Roco (may fetish si Elena sa kalbo?) pagkatapos ginawang joke time ang rape niya.

Ganda na nung simula na parang a day in the life of a midwife tapos biglang nagkalat sa second half na may kidnapping arc ng Etibak Gang. As in super kalat. Yung mapapaisip ka paano nanalo ng Palanca award ang screenplay eh nothing really made sense sa pinaggagawa ng mga characters.

Gusto pa ata ng pelikula na maging dark comedy sa dulo kasi may eksena na naka-handcuff si Elena sa pintuan ng ref tapos binabaril siya ng mga kidnappers habang umiiwas sa mga bala na parang nagsasayaw. Akala ko nga papasok ang music, ipapatong niya sa ulo ang natanggal na pinto, tapos magsasayaw siya ng pandanggo.

You really can’t spell Etibak Gang without ebak. (Kung di ko lang talaga mahal ‘tong si Iza…)

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 thay? 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: ★★☆☆☆

MAYNILA: SA MGA KUKO NG LIWANAG (Lino Brocka, 1975)

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A tragic tale of one man’s loss of innocence. Social realism at its finest.

I think Insiang is the best Filipino film of all time. After rewatching Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, I might have to reconsider.

What I love most about it is that it has all the qualities of poverty porn but it feels natural and never exploitative.

It’s sad that Bembol Roco has been relegated to character actor roles now. He’s just too good in this movie. It must be the Brocka touch.

The young Hilda Koronel is inarguably the most beautiful face ever to grace Philippine cinema. Bar none.

Rating: 5/5