CineFilipino Short Films – Set A (2018)

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#CineFilipino2018 – SHORTS A

LUISA AT GUADA (Jude Matanguihan, 2018) – ★★★★★

I’m such a sucker for these old people stories. Maybe because I’m not just an old soul, I’m just really old (huh?). The sungka reference, the pop culture chismisan about Kris Aquino and James “Uy”, the usual lola shade of “Ganyan ba manamit ang matinong babae?”, and the subsequent “Santissima!”. More relate, more fun.

Sherry Lara and Peewee O’Hara were terrific as the lifetime BFFs. One could only wish for a lasting friendship like theirs.

*****

RUFYLA (Coleen Tanco, 2018) – ★★☆☆☆

I really liked the tranquil opening sequence that also served as an introduction to the majestic T’boli culture, but then it devolved into a melodramatic public service ad about exploitation of probinsyanas (and to an extent, indigenous people). Literal kung literal.

*****

BINATA NA (Dexter de Jesus, 2018) – ★★☆☆☆

Interesting choice of not showing the faces of the actors, but it wasn’t able to add much on the discussion of circumcision as a Pinoy rite of passage to manhood. Of course there had to be a shot of a banana being peeled. I would have preferred an eggplant’s tip being chopped off, though.

*****

BOYET LOVES YOU (Josel Fajardo, 2018) – ★★★★☆

An effective horror-comedy that didn’t resort to cheap scares. Terrific performances from the two girls (one of them’s viral sensation Kat Galang) who had me from the moment they discussed the urban legend of the Snake Man in Robinson’s Galleria. You would probably piss your pants from laughing and/or pure terror.

*****

TUGMA (Joshua Tayco, 2018) – ★☆☆☆☆

Clearly well-intentioned, but its inauthenticity made it unbearable to watch. What rhymes with corny? (This had a rapping kid obviously named Rap so please don’t say horny.)

*****

SI APONIBOLINAYEN AT ANG MGA BATANG LUMILIPAD (April Aspiras, 2018) – ★★☆☆☆

Another social commentary, this time about displaced Lumads set in a constantly smoky place to establish atmosphere (seriously though, bakit laging mausok?). Very much like the kids with their glider, one would hope that this would soar, but it crashed with a resounding thud. (Pa-smart lang ako. Di ko lang talaga naintindihan.)

CineFilipino Short Films – Set B (2018)

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CINEFILIPINO 2018 – SHORTS B

.RAW (Eugine Frondoza, 2018) – ★★★☆☆

Reminded me of two things: 1) the belief that there was a certain gloom behind these perfectly-edited pre-nup videos, and 2) my undying love for Mara Lopez. I just wish it went beyond the “love the raw and unedited version of your other half” message.

*****

GABI NG KABABALAGHAN (Stephen Lopez, 2018) – ★★★★★

My easy favorite from this set. It was a well-crafted, inspired, and wicked take on Magandang Gabi Bayan’s iconic Halloween special. Those hilarious reenactments with the White Lady were just spot-on. Best end credits sequence, too. Made me excited to see what else this director had to offer.

*****

LASINGTUNADO (Miguel Fernandez, 2018) – ★☆☆☆☆

With its corny jokes and extended fight scenes, this one felt very much like an annoying, drunk next-door neighbor who went way past the allowed 10pm videoke curfew. If only it had more of that smart Bituin Escalante reference.

*****

AMUSIN PA (Raiza Masculino, 2018) – ★★☆☆☆

Spotty Southern Tagalog accents aside, this didn’t really offer anything new to the puppy love slash coming-of-age genre. At least it had the same kid in the wonderful Ang Painting ni Tatay.

*****

DUYAN NG ALON (Kaye Banaag, 2018) – ★★★★☆

I really liked this version of Cast Away imagined through the eyes of a child. It also had some really striking visuals, including a precious shadow play sequence that I could probably watch all day.

*****

ATE, KUYA, GUSTO KONG KAPE (Mark Bayani, 2018) – ★☆☆☆☆

Even an all-“star” cast that included Epy Quizon and 90’s Most Promising Actor Jao Mapa could not save this obvious headscratcher. “Sino si Ate?” Did anyone really care?

*****

SIYUDAD SA BULAWAN (Jarell Serencio, 2018) – ★★☆☆☆

There was an underlying sadness in this story of miners (and minors) working in a city of gold, but the film ended without really saying much. It looked really good, though.

CineFilipino Film Festival 2016 Scorecard

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I’m finally done with this year’s CineFilipino Film Festival. I only missed one feature-length due to a permit issue and a documentary because of scheduling concerns. Not bad.

Here’s my festival scorecard:

Best Feature-Length Film
1. SAKALING HINDI MAKARATING – ★★★★★
2. STAR NA SI VAN DAMME STALLONE – ★★★★★

3. NED’S PROJECT – ★★★☆☆
4. ANG TABA KO KASI – ★★★☆☆
5. ANG TULAY NG SAN SEBASTIAN – ★★☆☆☆
6. 1ST SEM – ★★☆☆☆
7. BUHAY HABANGBUHAY – ★★☆☆☆
8. STRAIGHT TO THE HEART – ★☆☆☆☆

Not seen: A LOTTO LIKE LOVE

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

1. SANDINO MARTIN (Ang Tulay Ng San Sebastian)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

1. ANGELI BAYANI (Ned’s Project)
2. CANDY PANGILINAN (Star Na Si Van Damme Stallone)
3. ALESSANDRA DE ROSSI (Sakaling Hindi Makarating)
4. CAI CORTEZ (Ang Taba Ko Kasi)
5. LOTLOT DE LEON (1st Sem)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

1. PEPE HERRERA (Sakaling Hindi Makarating)
2. PAOLO PINGOL (Star Na Si Van Damme Stallone)
3. JC SANTOS (Sakaling Hindi Makarating)
4. ALLAN PAULE (1st Sem)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

1. THERESE MALVAR (Sakaling Hindi Makarating)
2. MAX EIGENMANN (Ned’s Project)

Best Documentary

1. FOREVER BRIDGELESS – ★★★★★
2. AN ORCHESTRA IN SEARCH OF A HOME – ★★★★☆

3. SINA DINO AT ANG KANILANG SIKRETO – ★★★☆☆

Not seen: MGA KULAY SA LABAS NG LINYA

Best Short Film
1. SAANMAN NGUNIT DITO – ★★★★★
2. XXX – ★★★★★
3. OKTOPUS – ★★★★★

4. KUNG ANG ULAN AY GAWA SA TSOKOLATE – ★★★★☆
5. KATOK – ★★★★☆
6. DIGPAN NING ALTI – ★★★★☆
7. CHICBOY – ★★★★☆

8. LUNA – ★★★☆☆
9. NOT APPLICABLE – ★★☆☆☆
10. PUNLA – ★★☆☆☆
11. AKI – ★☆☆☆☆

Until next year!!

CineFilipino Short Films – Set A (2016)

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Shorts A had a really fine line-up that started with the great OKTOPUS by JP Habac. It was a bittersweet take on growing old filled with old people beliefs, superstitions, and ruminations on life. It starred an excellent cast of local veteran character actresses (Vangie Labalan, Ruby Ruiz, Flora Gasser) that in the end left a powerful dare (“Minsan lang po kayo matanda”).

KUNG ANG ULAN AY GAWA SA TSOKOLATE by Galileo Sioco Te and Prime Cruz was a refreshing take on a futuristic world where memories were sold and companies created a new breed of domestic helpers and caregivers. The mother-daughter bond established at the start was so strong (with great performances from its leads) that it made the big reveal even more heartbreaking. I wish they were able to fix the blatant dubbing concerns, otherwise this was a really great effort. (And I just could not stop singing that song!)

With Dayang Asu and now DIGPAN NING ALTI, Bor Ocampo has clearly established a specialty on the dog-eat-dog theme. Except for the (intentional?) non-matching perspectives, it was a well-shot, gritty film that would make you want to see what came after the prologue. I especially loved the scene where the camera was possibly mounted on a bike going downhill (signaling the current state of its characters’ lives).

John Rhys Guarina’s KATOK opened with a powerful image: that of a young boy tied and blindfolded in a cramped back of a van. It was later revealed that he was part of a group begging for money and his sad life was filled with the constant knocks on windows of both vehicle owners and his syndicate’s owner. It was a short that clearly delivered its message.

My favorite short film of the festival was easily SAANMAN NGUNIT DITO by Cheska Salangsang. It was a heartbreaking story about a childless couple doing a constant trek and their conversations revealed their sadness, disappointments (“Masama ba tayong tao?”), and a glimmer of hope. I would have personally wanted it to end without the voiceover and just the chilling final shot that was open to interpretation, but it was an excellent short nonetheless.

LUNA by Rae Red was a sad tale of a girl already trying to fit in and be accepted. And then she got her period and her gender identity struggle was fully revealed. Interesting for the most part, but I would have wanted to see (and feel) more.

Ratings:

OKTOPUS (JP Habac) – ★★★★★
KUNG ANG ULAN AY GAWA SA TSOKOLATE (Galileo Sioco Te and Prime Reyes) – ★★★★☆
DIGPAN NING ALTI (Bor Ocampo) – ★★★★☆
KATOK (John Rhys Guarina) – ★★★★☆
SAANMAN NGUNIT DITO (Cheska Salangsang) – ★★★★★
LUNA (Rae Red) – ★★★☆☆

CineFilipino Short Films – Set B (2016)

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A short film should be able to engage its audience and relay its story and/or message within a limited time span. With that said, CineFilipino’s Shorts B was a bit of a disappointment.

Milo Tolentino’s AKI was over before it even started. It was so short (probably a good thirty seconds) that I actually thought I was still watching the omnibus festival trailer. The opening shot was gorgeous, but it didn’t really amount to anything. Please tell me that was just a system glitch. 

Kenneth Mandrilla’s PUNLA had hints of The Returned, but it actually turned into a typical ghost/soul story. The chirping of the birds was louder than the actual dialogue that I had to rely on the subtitles to understand what the characters were saying. It tried to be sentimental in the end, but I didn’t really cared much about the kids (played by newbies, so the acting wasn’t that good).

Carl Chavez’s NOT APPLICABLE was a clear warning for call center agents to get enough sleep and take a much-needed vacation after an endless night of phone calls. Its attempt to be silly was fine, if only it was at least funny. The actress with the heavy make-up, 6 chunky bangles on one arm, and a frilly pink belt was no match for the ferocious turn of chubby Ate who finished two cake slices in one sitting. One scene had this really corny dialogue:

Muk-up Girl: “May iniwan si tatay?” (referring to recently deceased father)

Chubby Ate: “Yan!” (pointing at table)

MUG: “Yung cake?”

*groan*

Let’s not even discuss that faux chainsaw with the unfinished silver paint.

You could smell the twist(s) in Jasper Ramon Tulabot’s CHICBOY after the first minute, but it still didn’t take away the fact that it was incredibly funny. I would have wanted a toned-down performance from its lead actor to match the perfectly natural acting of Rona Mae Lallana (so good as the one-night stand partner). Still, the film was a hoot and achieved its goal of shocking its audience while making them laugh out really loud.

Allison Barretto’s XXX was the most polished one in the group, effectively creeping out its viewers through jump cuts and relentless voiceovers. It was about a disgraced seamstress turned beauty queen whose entire life story unfolded through radio announcements. The final shot will haunt people and make them think long after they have trooped out of the theater.

Ratings:

AKI (Milo Tolentino) – ★☆☆☆☆

PUNLA (Kenneth Mandrilla) – ★★☆☆☆

NOT APPLICABLE (Carl Chavez) – ★★☆☆☆

CHICBOY (Jasper Ramon Tulabot) – ★★★★☆

XXX (Allison Barretto) – ★★★★★