MEET ME IN ST. GALLEN (Irene Villamor, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Meet Me in St. Gallen:

1. It might be my limited knowledge of films (or my utter love for the series), but every time I’d see a romantic movie where the two leads just talk for hours, I immediately think of the classic Before Trilogy. It set such a high standard that anything else that remotely came close to its structure/style would (unfairly) end up as a mere copycat in my book.

This movie felt very much like a condensed version of the trilogy, except that the rambling discussions were less philosophical and more hugot-based (“Hindi ako painting na mailalagay mo sa pader”). Which would have been forgivable if it just wasn’t so… boring.

(Also, I thought that Raffy and Gela of Mr. and Mrs. Cruz would end up as this year’s most talkative characters, but I was obviously wrong.)

2. The meet cute was actually fine and it was interesting to watch the interactions between the spunky Celeste (Bela Padilla) and the more subdued Jesse (Carlo Aquino). Although it initially had that creepy stalker feel of Kita Kita with him bumping into her outside of a public restroom (where all great love stories start) and then began following her everywhere, she immediately confronted him (“Nagagandahan ka ba sa akin kaya mo ako sinusundan?”) and thankfully put a stop to this emerging love story trope that should never be romanticized.

I also wondered if Celeste would have entertained Jesse in the coffee shop if he looked like, say, Empoy Marquez so I felt amused when she was obviously one step ahead of the audience and said, “Kung di ka gwapo, di kita papaupuin dyan.”

(And totoo, sobrang gwapo lang ni Carlo dito that it made me forget he used to be part of the kiddie boyband JCS with John Prats and Stefano Mori. Wait, I meant sobrang galing. Galing, galing, galing!!)

3. I should actually hate Celeste because a) she spoiled the ending of Celeste and Jesse Forever, b) she had the gall to brag about her eight hundred friends on Facebook, c) she complained about being a misunderstood graphic artist yet made a basic layout that seemed to be a product of WordArt, d) one of her art works consisted of a pole with several hanging labada, and e) since she was an ahrt-ist, her dining table was decorated with scattered jigsaw puzzle pieces, but Bela’s such a good actress that I lapped up everything that she said and did.

4. I should actually hate Jesse because a) he asked if Celeste and Jesse Forever had a happy ending (and then complained about the spoiler, huh?), b) he sounded like a second-rate Abra that talked like Boy Abunda (“Kapag ako lang mag-isa, gusto kong isulat ang tungkol sa mga ibinubulong ko sa langit”), c) he broke several laws by answering his phone while drunk driving, and d) he cheated on Angelica Panganiban (well, not the real one, rather his fiancée in the picture), but Carlo’s such a good actor… wait, I already covered that.

5. Of course it wouldn’t be complete without a videoke session. Now if only I hadn’t recently heard and associated You Are My Sunshine with Annabelle: Creation…

6. I really couldn’t understand why Celeste would suddenly walk out of a romantic moment (“Sobrang perfect naman ng moment na ‘to. Wag natin sirain”) and then sleep with an obviously engaged Jesse four years later. Was it supposed to signal her transition from idealist to realist? Did absence make her heart grow fonder? What happened to emotional maturity?

(Side note: This was obviously a woman’s fantasy because the couple actually had an incredibly long talk in bed after having sex. And the next day, Celeste had an I-woke-up-like-this look with perfect eyebrows.)

7. All of those snowy Switzerland scenes looked really lovely. I wish I could say that I’d love to tick that off my bucket list, but definitely not after my nose almost fell off in Japan last month (and it wasn’t even below zero there).

8. Sobrang pahabol si Celeste. It took several minutes (and blocks) of endless walking and talking before she actually revealed that she already had a boyfriend. Ganda mo girl! Ginawan na ng tula ni Fidel, ngayon naman kanta ni Jesse pero basted pareho. I honestly couldn’t wait for the 100 Kanta ni Bela song hits.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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CAN THIS BE LOVE (Jose Javier Reyes, 2005)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Can This Be Love:

1. I recently had a discussion with a friend who used to work for Star Cinema regarding that studio’s process of churning out stories for ABS-CBN’s roster of artists (meaning projects were custom-made for hot stars or popular love teams). It was very much evident in this movie that was obviously created to showcase the winners of Star Circle Quest Batch 1, primarily grand winner Hero Angeles and runner-up Korean sensation Sandara Park. Sadly, what could have been an interesting take on cultural differences was hobbled by rom-com tropes and the limited range of the leads.

2. It wasn’t a surprise that Hero won SCQ because he had a little bit of everything going for him: the F4 circa Meteor Garden hair, the deep dimples pre-Alden Richards, the moreno skin unusual in an industry (and nation) obsessed with glutathione, and a great sob story to boot. As Ryan, he struggled a lot in his dramatic scenes where he mostly shouted his lines and acted like a complete bitch (even to Sandara’s character, Daisy). It certainly didn’t help that his uneven Mary Kay foundation that stopped mid-neck and horrible lip gloss and liner made me laugh every time the camera focused on his face.

3. Hindi naman nagpakabog si Sandara with her cosplay every day look with matching purple eyeshadow, pink blush, red lipstick combo. Thankfully the role didn’t require much from her except to fill the Pambansang Krung-Krung bill so she was okay just looking and acting silly. Her genuine challenge in speaking and understanding Filipino (“Slow down please!”) made her more endearing.

4. The pair’s love story started from a text message that was sent incorrectly through their Nokia 3310s. And here I thought the “Sorry, wrong send” message only worked if you were trying to make papansin from your deadma crush or happy in another relationship ex.

5. Roderick Paulate played Ryan’s landlord and provided much needed comic relief. He was in full Kumander Gringa mode by way of Maricel Soriano in any of her babaeng bakla roles (which was basically 80% of her filmography).

6. Ryan being the typical Pinoy was fuming mad when he read Daisy’s paper titled “What’s Wrong With Filipinos” but had no problems showing his prejudice against Koreans. Or maybe he really just had anger issues since he threw a hissy fit when Daisy visited him while he was in the midst of terrible constipation and even called her “Hoy” after she walked out. He was very patola to girls that I actually wondered if he really liked Daisy, especially after referencing Tito Boy Abunda and The Buzz.

7. Wait, Daisy’s Korean so she had to eat noodles all day every day? Or was she just required to eat them because they were different varieties of Tekki Asian Classics? (More product placement alert: BNY Jeans and Globe Autoload Max).

8. In one scene, Eugene Domingo (as Daisy’s landlord) mentioned President Magsaysay to Ryan and he was completely clueless, presumably because he was taking up Nursing. What?! He didn’t have any Philippine History classes in grade school or high school? Please.

9. Music video montage galore (I think I counted four!) and that didn’t even include the resort scene where kids danced to Sandara’s In or Out song.

10. Most cringe-worthy (aka my favorite LOL) scene:

Ryan: “How do you say ‘I love you’ in Korean?”
Daisy: “Saranghae.”
Ryan: “Saranghae.”
Daisy: “This is not the end yet, right?”
Ryan: “Oo, this is not the end. Sasamahan pa kita sa airport.”

I kid you not.

11. What was up with that rushed scrapbook ending? Naubusan ng budget so plane ticket na lang yun Korea trip? Tapos wedding invite na agad? Anyare sa Korean family vs Pinoys conflict? Argh! Pass me the kimchi.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

OUR BRAND IS CRISIS (David Gordon Green, 2015

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Our Brand Is Crisis:

1. From the very start, Sandra Bullock’s character Jane Bodine set the tone of the movie by saying things like “I could convince myself anything… at a price” or “Truth is relative”. Also called “Calamity Jane” by her peers, she was a political consultant/strategist (think a less-fashionable Olivia Pope in a scruffy beige jacket) tasked to clean up the image and campaign of a Bolivian presidential candidate. This movie couldn’t have been any timelier given our country’s current political climate.

2. A lot of the things that were shown here should be familiar to our nation (or any nation for that matter) during election season: a deluge of idiotic political ads with crappy jingles, smear campaigns aimed to generate disgust or fear of an opposing candidate, politicians carrying babies or singing in general assemblies, candidates crying in interviews to generate sympathy from voters. Basically every trick in the campaign book was covered and although these weren’t new to anybody, the scenes were still depressingly hilarious because of its authenticity (fake tears and all).

3. One really funny scene showed the group shooting a lame commercial involving a llama. It ran out of the building and got hit by a car prompting Sandra to say “He’d rather kill himself than be in our commercial.”

4. Politics is a joke in itself so I couldn’t really understand why the movie had to resort to groan-worthy slapstick for laughs. Sandra may be a pro with that brand of comedy but seeing her fall from a broken chair, constantly throw up, moon people, and have trouble closing a van’s window was completely unnecessary. The elastic bra prank didn’t really add anything to the story.

5. Joachim de Almeida who played the Bolivian candidate they were saving looked so much like Eddie Garcia. Look him up.

Also, a lot of the viewers kept saying that he was eerily similar to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte (lagging in current polls, has temper issues, etc.). Duterte’s supporters (Duterters?), there is still hope. You know who to call.

6. The endless quotes uttered in the movie from Sun Tzu to Warren Beatty to Muhammad Ali reminded me so much of Tito Boy Abunda. He would be the type of host that would blurt out things like “Friedrich Nietzsche said, ‘If you fight monsters for too long, you become one'” while asking Angelica Panganiban to confirm her breakup with John Lloyd Cruz.

7. Speaking of quotes, one scene involved a rival campaign manager not doing a fact check before feeding a (mis)quote to his candidate. I guess he wasn’t too smart after all.

8. The Cult of the Cosmic Wind sounded like a group that converged inside my stomach after eating at Mexicali.

9. During the presidential debate, a candidate was asked a tough question about constitutional reform for indigenous people of Bolivia. I was so happy that nobody replied “PILLS!!”, although that would have made a funnier movie.

10. Why do characters always have to grow a conscience in the end? To quote Tito Boy quoting George R.R. Martin, “A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good. Each should have its own reward.”

Rating: ★★★☆☆