MOVIE REVIEW: FENG SHUI 2 (Chito Roño, 2014)

D4AD2C51-A078-4E84-8D21-6B00F310F124

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Feng Shui 2:

1. Roño mentioned in a recent interview that he didn’t want to do a sequel since he didn’t want to make the same movie. He named this Feng Shui and it was supposed to be a continuation of the original story. The title was apt since it was basically a retread of the original.

2. The previously novel idea of people dying based on their animal signs proved to be stale this time around. Who could forget the well-thought out sequence in the original where Lotlot de Leon (born on the year of the horse) got hit by an ironing board and fell to her death on cases of Red Horse? None of the deaths here had the same impact.

3. Every death had to be explained and every animal connection had to be in full view just in case the audience didn’t get it. What happened to subtlety? We’re not idiots.

4. Rat killer, Red Bull, Doug wearing a dogtag, Playboy shirt and Red Rabbit fire extinguisher, Snake Island truck, chicharon, these were the best that they could think of?

5. Bad dubbing. Really bad dubbing.

6. A lot of the characters here had never seen a bagua. I guess they weren’t able to watch the original movie.

7. Am I the only one who found it funny that a movie about karma (or close to it) actually starred Carmi Martin? Carmi Martin was really just around the corner.

8. As expected, there were mini-commercials shilling products endorsed by the stars. And so we got all the reasons why we needed to buy Nxled lights by Akari. I suddenly missed that Chunkee dinner scene in the original.

9. One clunky scene had Coco being thrown around by an invisible being. The special effect was too funny. And too lame. What was that?

10. And yet another scene was ripped from The Grudge (the eye and hair shot, you’ll remember when you see it).

11. Kris Aquino had this perpetually constipated look like she was watching Darla consume a whole lechon.

12. I guess all the zumba did her good with all those running scenes.

13. I saw the movie with the noisiest crowd ever (both fun and annoying at the same time). They were screaming their heads off as soon as the lights dimmed. I think they had lots of fun shouting in every scare scene regardless if these weren’t really scary.

14. The ending hinted at another sequel (hey Direk Chito what happened to that no sequel thingie?) and the final scene tried to be social media relevant with the bagua being shared online. So the third movie will be The Ring? Digital na ang karma? Wait, you can’t see your reflection on a picture! How will that work? I give up.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published December 26, 2014.)

MOVIE REVIEW: FENG SHUI (Chito Roño, 2004)

C2ADF504-33D0-44B3-A9C0-58D41D0A0DE3

Bakit ba tuwang-tuwa tayo na nakikitang pinahihirapan si Kris Aquino? Blockbuster halos lahat ng massacre movies at horror films niya kahit ang chaka niya talaga umarte at mas nakakatawa kesa nakakaawa siya kapag sumisigaw.

Kung si Ate Guy na-perfect ang pagluha sa isang mata lang, kabog siya dito ni Kris na mala-bidet ang tatlo-tatlong chunky na luhang pumapatak sa mga mata niya.

Speaking of chunky, sobrang underrated talaga nung batang kapitbahay nila dito. Tawang-tawa pa rin ako nung sarap na sarap siya sa Purefoods Chunkee Corned Beef (“Ang sarap! Iba ‘tong sa inyo no, buo buo pa!!”). Hahahaha! Tapos ang classic lang nung scene na nagtakbuhan na sila palabas ng bahay tapos yung mag-aama sumakay sa kotse at siya ay hirap na hirap mag-bisikleta palayo. Langhiyang tatay yun haha!

Memorable talaga yung death sequence dito ni Lotlot de Leon. Very Pinoy ng conceit kaya hindi makukuha ng foreign viewers kung gaano kagaling na hinataw siya ng kabayo (as in plantsahan) at nahulog sa mga bote ng Red Horse.

Sana malaki ang bonus nung nakaisip ng teaser nito. Yung may batang kumakanta ng “May uwi si nanay, si nanay sa bahay…”. Kinilabutan ka ba nung maalala mo?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: HERO (Zhang Yimou, 2002)

47863454-EBD6-4268-8BD0-9506A43739CC

Why do I have this weird feeling that Direk Chito Roño chanced upon this film one late evening on HBO before he started pre-production for The Healing? Also, Christopher Doyle’s cinematography was just WOW!!

I remember having the biggest crush on Zhang Ziyi post-Crouching Tiger. Felt so bad when her Hollywood debut via the terrible Horsemen failed miserably. Crossing my fingers for her redemption in God Particle.

And I developed a slight fear of arrows after this. Not even kidding.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published June 29, 2017.)

MOVIE REVIEW: CAREGIVER (Chito Roño, 2008)

5D43F054-7001-4E3B-B60D-04521AC8165A

SPOILER ALERT!!

Mabilis talaga ako maiyak kapag tungkol sa OFW ang pelikula. Napakalungkot kasi isipin lahat ng mga sakripisyo nila matupad lang ang pangarap na magandang buhay para sa pamilya. Yung alam mong titiisin ang lahat (discrimination abroad, homesickness, extra work hours, downgrade sa trabaho) para kumita ng Pounds.

Hindi na bago ang story ni Sarah (Sharon Cuneta), isang magaling na English teacher sa Pilipinas na mas piniling magtrabaho bilang caregiver sa London dahil: 1) “mas malaki ang Pounds kesa Dollars” at syempre lalo na sa Pesos, at 2) yun ang utos ng asawang si Teddy (John Estrada). Nagustuhan ko na malaman ang meaning nito sa status ng kababaihan (married professionals or otherwise) sa ating bansa.

In one scene, pinapanood ni Sarah ang kanyang nanay na pinapaliguan ang kanilang lola. Sinasabi ba nito na lubos na maalaga ang mga babae? O nasa culture nating mga Pinoy ang pagiging mapagmahal sa mga nakakatanda? Kaya ba tayo right fit sa pagiging caregiver? Tumatak sa akin ang masaklap na juxtaposition na hindi man lang niya maalagaan ang lola niya (na hindi siya kilala dahil sa dementia) pero ganun mismo ang job requirement niya sa patients na hindi niya kaano-ano. Ang sakit sa puso.

Mahusay si Sharon dito. Mas gusto ko talaga kapag restrained ang atake niya sa pag-iyak (in peak form nung Madrasta). Ramdam mo yung hiya nung pinagtawanan siya ng isang estudyante na she’ll “make punas punas the pwet of older people there”. At halos masuka na din ako nung kelangan na nga niya magpunas ng pwet.

Sayang kasi nawalan ng direction ang story at naging melodramatic nung naging demonyo bigla si Ted at nung nag-focus sa relationship ni Sarah at Mr. Morgan. Kasi kahit ang dami nang OFW movies (like Anak), may iba pang topics sana na tinutukan (like yung subplot ni Jhong Hilario’s doctor turned nurse na nauwi sa illegal termination) to further show the OFW experience.

At least sa huli na-realize ni Sarah na mas importante ang kanyang self-worth/self-love kesa sa gwapo niyang asawa. Yes, sana all.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: DAHAS (Chito Roño, 1995)

2B3ED693-4809-456C-BAFB-BF68941D77F6

It’s been 23 years since this was shown in theaters as an MMFF ‘95 entry and I’m still bitter over the fact that it lost Best Picture (and Best Actress for Maricel Soriano) to standard drama fare Muling Umawit ang Puso. Great Pinoy thrillers rarely get the respect that they deserve.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published January 20, 2019.)

MOVIE REVIEW: BARBARA REIMAGINED (Benedict Mique, Chris Ad. Castillo, 2019)

55CAB780-7311-4960-9870-D282640E73FB

Ang basic rule lang naman for a remake (or reboot) ay dapat mapantayan (or mahigitan) niya ang original. Otherwise, para que pa ito diba?

Maayos naman na yung 1995 remake ni Chito Roño. May sayang dulot din ang pananakot kay Kris Aquino dun sa 2008 mini-series. Feeling ko tuloy yung poot at planong paghihiganti nung multo ay hindi talaga directed kay Barbara.

Tawang-tawa ako kay Nathalie Hart dito. Hindi ko alam kung umaarte siya or hindi niya lang naiintindihan ang instructions ng director. Sayang sana ginawa nilang campy version ito kasi sure ako mag-excel siya dun.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: SIGNAL ROCK (Chito Roño, 2018)

D222DDA5-5F0B-43D6-AF44-4BA5EB993781

SPOILER ALERT!!

Where the little details of small town life mattered a lot (effects of people coming and going, pros and cons of the bayanihan concept, limited supply of electricity and lack of network signal, barrio problems that consisted of petty brawls in a pasayaw, etc.).

The strong ensemble cast made me feel that I had known these characters my entire life. My favorites were the dependable Nanding Josef (who had a heartbreaking carabao English scene) and Joel Saracho (one of the hardest working character actors in these last two local festivals).

I had concerns with the pacing that might have intentionally mirrored the slow town life. One storm scene that involved a bangka also had awful special effects. At least the scenes with waves crashing on those rock formations looked really gorgeous.

Side note: Did we not learn anything from that Bagani brownface brouhaha?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published August 15, 2018.)

 

MOVIE REVIEW: THE HEALING (Chito Roño, 2012)

09DC156E-E0E3-4714-B05F-5BCBDD25BD57

It didn’t aim high so it succeeded on its only goal: scaring the crap out of its audience. I’ve never heard this much shouting since Sukob and I’ve never heard this much clapping in a crucial scene since Cinemalaya. This is probably the first bad movie that I’m recommending to watch. It had an awful story but it was also filled with great scare scenes. Best viewed in a packed theater. Good fun!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published August 1, 2012.)

MOVIE REVIEW: THE NUN (Corin Hardy, 2018)

7FE9E888-3B11-43A2-B231-07DCF25ED87D

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Nun:

1. Long before Kidzania, Sky Ranch, Enchanted Kingdom, Star City, Boom na Boom, Glico’s, Payanig sa Pasig and Big Bang sa Alabang, the certified 80’s kids had that glorious haven located in the heart of Cubao called Fiesta Carnival. It was an indoor amusement park filled with the coolest rides and the best perya games ever created.

My favorite attraction there was this dingy horror ride (the predecessor of the corny horror train) where you would sit in a tiny cart that would pass through this long, dark tunnel split into several rooms (your cart would enter them by bumping onto the sliding doors) and each room was filled with every kind of supernatural entity designed to scare the crap out of you. One area would have like a ghost suddenly flying above your head while another would have a vampire jumping out of his coffin.

It felt very much like a nightmare that wouldn’t stop until you literally puked your kiddie guts out from all the screaming. That experience would probably be the closest equivalent I could think of for this movie that was relentlessly packed with jump scares. The only difference though was that I was no longer six years old.

2. In the Conjuring Universe, this would probably fall right smack in the middle with the best being the first Conjuring film and the worst being the first Annabelle. As a huge horror fan, I’d usually hate the ones that would sacrifice a good story over some cheap scares, but this one proved to be an exception (yes, I enjoyed it more than I probably should have).

Maybe it was because it didn’t take itself seriously (it definitely failed as an origin story because it didn’t really tell much about Valak aka Sister Marilyn Manson) and just took on the full silliness of its premise by upping the scream quotient (regardless of how effective they were).

3. With all the hilarious moments here through Frenchie-Canadian (Jonas Bloquet), I wasn’t even sure if it was trying to be a parody of the past movies (or even the genre). I mean, that scene where he pulled an oversized cross from a grave and ran with it all the way to a local bar was definitely a joke (and a really funny one, too).

Plus, you could probably name every cliché in the horror rule book and it was included here (except for a cat jumping out of the shadows, unless I missed that one). When one nun fell face down on the floor, everybody knew that somebody would grab her legs and pull her away from the camera. That corpse covered with a white sheet? It would come alive screaming, of course. And the scene where a nun suddenly dropped from a tree while hanging from a noose? It was done far better by Ynez Veneracion with her crazy eyes in Chito Roño’s The Healing. But all of these generated a symphony of screams (with some people literally jumping out of their seats) in our almost sold-out screening that made me enjoy the viewing experience even more.

4. When that horse-drawn carriage suddenly pulled up outside that monastery, I half-expected Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker to come out and seduce Valak with his tasty blood. I didn’t even care much about the supposedly creepy atmosphere of the broken-down monastery and smoky graveyard, I still found olden Romania incredibly romantic. Now what does that say about me?

5. Did Father Burke (Demián Bichir) provide an answer to his question on the opposite of miracle? This had been bugging me for days and Google was no help. Also, his character didn’t really figure much in the overall story, but at least he was able to deliver lines like “There is a time for prayer and a time for action”. Ooh, very Balweg, the Rebel Priest!

6. Glad that they actually made the effort to tie this up with the earlier films, although I was a bit disappointed that Sister Irene (an effective Taissa Farmiga) did not have any relation to Lorraine Warren (my darling Vera Farmiga) even if they obviously looked exactly alike. I would just assume that she was her reincarnation, which would explain why Valak was stalking her for several decades.

Side note: It felt iffy when the crowd started shipping Sister Irene and Frenchie-Canadian after that “kiss of life” scene, complete with an audible (and juvenile) “Yiheeeee!”. I felt the same way when this group of horny teens let everyone know that they were lusting over Phoebe Walker’s Sister Cecilia in Seklusyon. Forgive them Mother Butlers, for they have sinned. (Ang linis ko, thank you!)

7. I really liked that silent circle of prayer scene. Never thought I would ever get scared of a group (waddle? nyahaha!) of nuns especially after Sister Act, but this one came really close when they suddenly blew up in all directions (the Silent Hill-type scene that followed where they weren’t moving when Frenchie-Canadian entered the chamber was spooky, too). And then Sister Irene grew a burning parol on her upper back and I was laughing yet again (still not over all those Jose Mari Chan memes).

Another side note: I suddenly remembered that Netflix movie Veronica with the blind Mother Superior. Considering that I never had the traumatic experience of a nun hitting me with a ruler for wearing a skirt two inches shorter than the required length, I had always wondered why people were actually scared of them. Why would an image of a nun staring directly at you from outside your bedroom window elicit chills? And why would it be frightening if that same nun would now be standing right next to you while you were reading this? Don’t look!!

8. I usually hated watching with such a noisy crowd (seriously, everyone started screaming when the lights were turned off, even if it was just the Aquaman trailer that was played after), but hearing these straight guys pretend to be the bravest souls while clutching on to their girlfriends’ hands just doubled the entertainment factor. And yes, mas malakas pa sila tumili kesa sa mga date nila. Aliw lang.

Rating: ★★★☆☆