METRO MANILA FILM FESTIVAL 2019 SCORECARD

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Best Feature-Length Film

1. WRITE ABOUT LOVE (Crisanto Aquino) – ★★★★☆
2. MINDANAO (Brillante Mendoza) – ★★★☆☆
3. MIRACLE IN CELL NO. 7 (Nuel Naval) – ★★★☆☆
4. SUNOD (Carlo Ledesma) – ★★☆☆☆
5. CULION (Alvin Yapan) – ★★☆☆☆
6. MISSION UNSTAPABOL: THE DON IDENTITY (Michael Tuviera) – ★★☆☆☆
7. THE MALL, THE MERRIER (Barry Gonzalez) – ★☆☆☆☆
8. 3POL TROBOL: HULI KA BALBON! (Rodel Nacianceno) – ★☆☆☆☆

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

1. ROCCO NACINO (Write About Love)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

1. JUDY ANN SANTOS (Mindanao)
2. MILES OCAMPO (Write About Love)
3. CARMINA VILLARROEL (Sunod)
4. IZA CALZADO (Culion)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

1. JC SANTOS (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
2. JOEM BASCON (Write About Love)
3. JOHN ARCILLA (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
4. ALLEN DIZON (Mindanao)
5. JOJIT LORENZO (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
6. JOEL TORRE (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
7. MON CONFIADO (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
8. SOLIMAN CRUZ (Miracle in Cell No. 7)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

1. MERYLL SORIANO (Culion)
2. KRYSTAL BRIMNER (Sunod)
3. YUNA TANGOG (Mindanao)
4. JASMINE CURTIS-SMITH (Culion)

Until next year!!

SUNOD (Carlo Ledesma, 2019)

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To be fair, ang daming visually-arresting images dito lalo na yung mukhang natatabunan ng lupa at yung use ng red string. May feel siya ng current Hollywood horror movie. Yung di puro cheap jump scares na lang. Kaso problema rin na hindi siya nakakatakot at all.

Aliw na aliw ako sa call center setting na nasa isang abandoned hospital tapos literal na production floor na agad paglabas ng elevator. Ano kayang mga grievance and appeals ng mga agents dito maliban sa amoy chloroform tapos parang nagtitipid sila ng kuryente?

Lakas ng tawa ko nung yung COO ng company na si Mylene Dizon ay nagmamasid sa mga agents mula sa second floor at nakikinig sa call-handling skills nila. Kabog niya lahat ng kilala kong terror QAs. Tenga lang pala niya ang katapat ng call monitoring systems. Feedback agad for immediate coaching.

Hindi ako masyadong impressed noon kay Krystal Brimner sa Honor Thy Father. Pero iba ang galing niya dito as a possessed girl. Ang ganda ng transitions niya from being helpless and innocent to sinister and creepy.

The best for me na hindi si Susan Africa ang may TB dito for a change. Kaso kelangan ba talaga na gawin siya kamukha nung internet viral sensation na si Momo?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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: ★☆☆☆☆

LOVE YOU TO THE STARS AND BACK (Antoinette Jadaone, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Love You to the Stars and Back:

1. As a kid, I believed everything that my mother told me. I would immediately take a shower after getting drenched in the rain to avoid getting pulmonya. I would forego that extra cup of rice during dinner lest I end up dying of bangungot. I never went to bed with wet hair because I didn’t want to wake up crazy and dragged all the way to the basement of Makati Med. I was proud of my huge ears because they meant that I would live a long life. I also ate an entire roasted lizard because it was supposedly a cure for my asthma.

I wasn’t surprised at all that young Mika (Julia Barretto) swallowed up all the alien talk of her soon-to-be-departed mother (Carmina Villarroel). I mean it would be nice to believe that E.T. (yes, as in “E.T., phone home!”) would one day abduct me and bring me to the stars so I could observe EDSA traffic from above. In Mika’s own words, “Walang imposible sa mundong ito. Kelangan mo lang maniwala.”

2. So Mika decided to look for aliens in Mt. Milagros (fictional place, right?) somewhere in Batangas and the very first thing she bought as supplies were…Choco Muchos?! Please tell me this wasn’t a blatant product placement (similar to that succeeding Oppo selfie) and that she was really a junk food junkie. Also, would Sapporo now be considered the official beer of Pinoy love stories? Better luck next time Red Horse Litro.

3. Leo Martinez had always been the token Batangueño character in Pinoy cinema and his accent (read: punto) would always be played for laughs. I was happy to see a different version here represented by Caloy (Joshua Garcia, another true-blue Batangueño), but I wish he kept the accent all-throughout the film just for authenticity (sadly, the ones by the supporting cast were spotty at best).

Joshua made up for it though with such a strong performance that displayed his versatility. The John Lloyd Cruz comparisons made during Vince & Kath & James were even more obvious (and justified) here. Naiiyak ako habang pinapanood lang sya umiyak, whether he was telling the story of how his father abandoned them over a plate of tapang kalabaw, or peering through the gate while getting rejected by said dad, or calling his mom to assure her that he was okay. Nanay pa niya si Cherry Pie Picache so wag na umasang di ka maiyak.

(I think the only weakness of Joshua would be his fake laugh because, well, it felt fake. Bawi naman sa pa-karug. Har har.)

4. I loved how the characters here bonded over the grossest things, making them more human and their relationship more relatable. Their meet cute moment actually involved pooping and pissing in a talahiban (another mother’s advice: always say ‘tabi tabi po’ to prevent the wrath of a nuno) and since a significant part of the movie had them inside a car, I was happy when somebody actually farted (with a round of finger-pointing after, of course!).

5. Wait, so Caloy was sick and he decided that the best way to go from Lemery to Calaca (this would be like going from Southmall to MOA ba?) was on a bike?

6. The manong manok character was definitely me to millennials: “Ang babata n’yo pa, ang lalandi n’yo na!”

Mika was able to provide a good defense though: “Bakit kung uso na ang cellphone nung EDSA Revolution, hindi rin ba kayo mag-selfie?!” Touché!

(Another Titas of Manila moment: my brain kept screaming “Eyes on the road!” while they kept making landi in a moving vehicle. Ay josko ka!)

7. Goldie, their pet chicken, was left in the car while they ate lunch. Buti hindi naging Chickenjoy pagbalik nila.

8. I was never really fond of Julia because of her rumored kaartehan and perceived brattiness (I read a lot of FashionPulis, sorry!), but she definitely proved her mettle here. Not only did she look and sound very much like her Aunt Claudine, she actually acted the exact same way.

I especially liked her in that bridge scene where all of her emotions just felt raw and natural. Any lesser actress would have disappeared amidst the powerful presence of Joshua. She also had this really cute (albeit bittersweet) scene with Mika imagining that Caloy was still in the passenger seat. All it needed was her playfully saying, “Mukha kang chewing gum na masarap nguyain.”

9. Although it had elements similar to The Fault in our Stars (and even Your Name), the film overall was still distinctly Jadaone. Iba pa rin ang magic niya kapag usapang pag-ibig. She always knew the right blend of kilig and drama.

I really liked how this was able to differentiate itself from TFIOS by showing the ugly side of cancer. It would be hard to forget that heartbreaking scene with Caloy all covered in his own puke and blood, trying to pretend that nothing was wrong with him. Also, it had one of the most unromantic (pero damang-dama pa rin) declarations of love in cinema. Move over, Ansel and Shailene!

10. “Walang sigurado pero minsan kelangan mo lang maniwala.” I now believe in you, JoshLia. Elyen!!

Rating: ★★★★☆