EXES BAGGAGE (Dan Villegas, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Exes Baggage:

1. In the movie As Good As It Gets, obsessive-compulsive Melvin (Jack Nicholson) professed his love to Carol (Helen Hunt) by saying one of the sweetest lines in film history, “You make me want to be a better man.” I remembered watching this in high school when my innocent heart had never experienced any real heartbreak yet. I gobbled up each word of that declaration with the belief that people would actually change themselves to win over (or win back) the person that they truly loved. I obviously didn’t know any better back then.

Through the years, I must have heard every single version of that promise. Changing for the better? Swearing to always remain faithful moving forward? Pledging undying love after endless second chances? Although there wasn’t any bitterness left for any of my exes after our failed relationships, my already jaded heart couldn’t hold still when Nix (Carlo Aquino) told his ex Pia (Angelica Panganiban), “Paulit-ulit kong isusugal ang puso ko maramdaman ko lang ulit kung anong meron tayo noon.” ULUL!! I expected her to say, “Narinig ko na yan, boy! Wag ako!!”, but this was still a Star Cinema movie after all.

2. I really liked how this was able to capture those awkward moments specific to recent exes (because after our hearts were fully healed, we would usually end up as good friends with them, right?). In one scene, Pia bumped into old married flame Migz (Joem Bascon) and I felt every uncomfortable minute of that encounter. I also used to run the other direction whenever I would see a recent ex heading my way in the mall (twice as fast if said ex was with a new jowa). I mean, what kind of small talk would we have? “Uy, ang gwapo ng ipinalit mo sa akin! Good job! High five!!”. Uhh, no thanks! Not everyone could be as strong as Angelica who even declared on national TV that she was willing to be a ninang to the baby of a recent ex. Tibay mo, gurl!

I also appreciated how it fully displayed all the insecurities that couples would feel whenever they start discussing their exes (especially when comparisons would come into play). No amount of self-confidence or belief on the strength of your relationship would go unscathed once the classic “Sinong mas minahal mo?” question comes up. Or even worse, “Nagustuhan mo lang ba ako para makalimutan sya?”.

(Side note: It was a bit understandable for Pia to feel insecure about Nix’s ex Dwein because she was played by the gorgeous and classy Coleen Garcia. Ibang level ang ganda ni Ate Gurl dito.)

3. I wish we knew more about Nix and Pia for us to fully root for their relationship. How could we say that these two people really loved each other when the only grand gesture we saw was Nix preparing her a romantic dinner? Sure, he was also a gentleman for not taking advantage of a drunk woman, but you wouldn’t go into a relationship with every decent guy you meet.

The thin plot mainly worked because of the undeniable chemistry of CarGel (that entire pretend dancing in the condo scene alone was worth the ticket price). I felt bad that Carlo got saddled with an unsympathetic, irrational (“Sana pinakilala mo ako ng maayos para di na sya nag-small talk sa’yo!”) character full of hang-ups, but he still made the most out of his role. And what was his problem with his girlfriend showing a little bit of cleavage? Insert Nadine Lustre sound bite here.

It was Angelica who really stood out though for embodying a perfectly flawed character who could be my best friend any day (even if she had the gall to ask Nix to take her home after a night of partying then drive her back to work immediately after). Her wonderful performance ranged from hilarious (“Gumising talaga ako para magising mo ako”) to heartbreaking (“Sanay naman ako. Sabihin mo lang talaga. Sanay na akong iniiwan”). I wanted to give her the tightest hug during the scene where she was packing her suitcase.

4. It was a bit funny how the Alamat ng Santol turned into the Alamat ng Werewolf in the subtitles pero naitawid naman. But I was more curious about that Alamat ng Bakla on Social Media and the belief that guys with more than fifty photos in their Facebook profile pic album were gay. But what if they only had five choice topless pa-delight and pa-abs pics? Asking for a desperate friend.

5. Best moment in the film for me:

When Pia offered to prepare breakfast and coffee for Dwein but she declined (di ata sya umiinom ng Great Taste White) which prompted Pia to say, “Meron naman akong dalang bibingka.” I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be hilarious, but I really laughed my head off.

6. “Ang takot magmahal after masaktan, di nagmahal in the first place. Kaya mo dapat pagdaanan ulit lahat ng pain at sakit para maramdaman ulit ang pagmamahal. Dapat ganun ang love, it overpowers pain.” O di sige Pianalyn, ikaw na ang matatag!!

7. Lovely cinematography. Of course I wondered why Pia would read under a green lamp/light, but I wouldn’t want that to ruin the movie’s aesthetics.

Also, first time to watch panties being removed while set to an indie soundtrack. Loved most of the songs though, especially Maybe the Night.

8. I teared up a bit when Nix started talking to Pia’s car, not because it was unfortunately named Ogie, but because he was making a last habilin to a non-living object to take care of this person that he truly loved. I thought it was the perfect sad ending to a relationship that was never meant to be.

But then Pia stepped out of her car, ignored the mystery man named Anton calling her, and implied a more hopeful ending. Tanga!! (Also, poor Anton.)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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SIN ISLAND (Gino Santos, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sin Island:

1. Think of the worst adjectives that could apply in any romance-suspense-thriller and it would be the perfect description for this ridiculous, trashy (basura kung basura!), mindless, basic movie that had the technical polish of a same-day edit wedding video. I spent the entire time figuring out if the campy humor was intentional or not (if it were, I wish it went all out and crossed over to Joey Gosengfiao territory).

Where else would you hear a character say the line, “Exclusive ang kaputahan ko. I only give my puta self to the one I love”? The ending even blatantly ripped off (read: garapalan) the last few scenes of Fatal Attraction. Needless to say, I enjoyed every torturous minute of it.

This was probably my favorite guilty pleasure since Jaclyn Jose delivered the atrocious “Kaya kabit ang tawag sa kanila kasi daig pa nila ang epoxy kung kumabit. Kaya kerida kasi mga kiri. Kaya mistress kasi nakaka-stress!” in Nuel Naval’s A Secret Affair.

2. I still hadn’t gotten over the British Madonna accent of Xian Lim in Paddington 2 so it was only apt that this one started with an overly-modulated voiceover of his character David reminiscing the fun times he had with his wife Kanika (Coleen Garcia). The moment he said, “I can still remember the first time we met…”, I immediately brought out two valid IDs and my initial cash deposit to open my very first BDO savings account.

(Side note: During the family dinner, David’s dad said something like “We were worried about this one” referring to the fear of his son never getting married and for a second there I really thought that he was going to joke about David’s sexuality. Insert side eye emoji here.)

3. May galit ba ang Star Cinema sa flight attendants? Why were they usually portrayed as horny unprofessionals fawning over their senior hunky pilots (see also Just the 3 of Us)? I’d be really scared with all the raging hormones onboard that flight.

In one scene, Kanika gave this lame excuse for taking good care of sick DILF pilot Stephen (TJ Trinidad), “Syempre kelangan ko kayo alagaan kasi kung di kayo gumaling, sino maghahatid sa amin sa Pilipinas?” (Anak ng tokwa isa lang ata ang piloto sa airline nila!)

4. To be fair, she seemed to be aroused by everything around her. She was the type of woman that had no qualms undressing and dry humping her husband in the hallway just outside the room where his entire family was having dinner. She also had these constant bouts of wet dreams that looked straight out of a Cinemax After Dark special. I started to wonder if she actually had an allergy to any type of clothing. Kanika? More like Katika.

(Another side note: Coleen always had memorable names in these Star Cinema films. She played a horny (what else?) med rep named Arkisha in Ex with Benefits. We might need to start coming up with cool names for her next role as, say, a horny mountain climber? Suggestions please!!)

5. One dinner scene with friends was reminiscent of The Entire History of You episode in Black Mirror that I expected David’s eyes to start glazing over. Of course it was done Pinoy-style, so Stephen had to say the line, “I love cheat days. Kahit ano pwede mo kainin” before slurping on a piece of tahong. For a moment there, I thought that he would actually swallow it whole, tahong clit and all.

6. “Welcome to Sin Island! Short for Sinilaban!!” Bwahahahaha! Gusto ko rin silaban ang buong sinehan, but I was having too much fun already.

7. The best part of the movie was Nathalie Hart (formerly Princess Snell of Starstruck), who would have given Rosanna Roces a run for her ST star crown in the 90s. Her limited acting range as crazy Tasha was perfectly suited to the genre and she just delivered a playful, go-for-broke, balakayojan performance. Her first scene alone where she was doing nude yoga along the beach was a killer. David created a ruckus that disrupted her zen moment and her facial reaction was a cross between “Watdapak!” and “Shet, may kasama utot ko!”.

I knew I was watching an effective kontrabida because the Titas of Batangas behind me were audibly wishing for her demise (“Ayan na naman ang impakta! Bakit di pa yan mamatay?”). Their blood pressures definitely went through the roof when Tasha came out of David’s bathroom and wiggled her underwear in front of Kanika while saying “Sorry naglakad kasi dito ang panty ko eh”. A chorus of “Impakta talaga ‘to! Impaktaaaa!” filled the entire cinema. I wasn’t surprised that when Kanika dragged Tasha by the hair while inside a moving car, everyone in the cinema cheered to their hearts’ delight.

(Yet another side note: These Titas of Batangas spent the entire time arguing that the actress playing Tasha was Sarah Lahbati.)

8. Of course there was a legal wife-kabit confrontation, but this one involved a staredown set inside a steaming sauna (walang metaphor na di inurungan! symbolism in yo face!). If it weren’t obvious enough, another girl entered the room then jumped out screaming “Aray! Bakit sobrang init naman dito?”. Kanika and Tasha also took turns in saying “If you can’t handle the heat, then stay out of the kitchen”. Wait lang, bakit kitchen pa rin??

9. The sex scenes here were as unerotic as the ones in Fifty Shades Freed. Fogged up shower sex again? A jazzed up version of Isang Linggong Pag-ibig playing in the background? Maple syrup licked off Xian’s chest? Eww.

10. Speaking of Xian’s chest, does anyone know what cream he uses to maintain the pinkish glow of his nipples? Asking for a friend.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

EX WITH BENEFITS (Gino Santos, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ex With Benefits:

1. Why did the “10 Years Ago” Derek Ramsay look exactly like the present old-looking Derek? And did the movie really expect me to believe that he only had a 4-year age gap with Coleen Garcia? Really?! Also, was he wearing eyeliner?

2. Was this supposed to be a sex comedy? The “I Love You Always Forever” montage was cringe-worthy. And how horny were these two to actually make-out in a theater showing Feng Shui? Kris Aquino and Lotus Feet as aphrodisiacs? Eek!

3. This was another one of those petty people with petty problems movie. In one scene, Derek defended the pagkababae of Coleen by punching another student. After he got suspended, he immediately lashed out at her and blamed her for what happened. Huh?! Why should I be rooting for their love story?

4. In another scene, Derek was supposed to take his revalida and asked the proctor for two minutes to talk to Coleen. The proctor kept saying, “Kapag nag-umpisa na, wala na pwede pumasok” and yet several students still kept entering the classroom. How’s that for conflict?

5. Rayver Cruz’s constant use of the word “Bro” will forever haunt me in my dreams. Am I the only one annoyed by this term? It reminded me again that hindi lahat ng paminta ay nasa adobo.

6. My biggest problem with the movie was that Coleen’s character was a smart and beautiful girl and yet she had to use her body to get her way in life. And did she really have to do the nasty with the Dean just to save Derek’s future career? Iha, matalino ka. Gamitin mo naman utak mo.

7. I wonder how med reps will react to these spiteful lines:

“If you can’t be a doctor, date one.”

“Wag utak doktor. Dapat utak med rep.”

8. 50 Shades of Grey, Gone Girl, The Fault in Our Stars. The screenwriter loved pop-culture references.

9. If you’re watching for the sex scenes, be warned. It consisted mostly of Derek rubbing his face on Coleen’s various body parts.

10. There were so many lines that made me (unintentionally) laugh.

On the idea of romance: “Babalik ka na parang fungi.”

On jealousy: “Kulang na lang eh hubaran mo siya!”

On pain: “Kelangan nya masaktan para malaman nya na buhay sya.”

By the way, the last line was about a newborn na pinalo-palo ng nurse so it would cry.

I told you the movie was a hoot.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

THE ESCORT (Enzo Williams, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Escort:

1. In Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin, Gelli de Belen played a household help who owned a magical wardrobe full of expensive bikinis. She wore a different pair in every scene of the montage (set to the theme song, of course) with her making tampisaw under a raging waterfall or lying down the sandy beaches of Camiguin. She must have been employed in Ayala Alabang to be able to afford such a collection.

I wondered about the same thing here with Yassi (Lovi Poe), who wore the most fabulous outfits while working as a part-time waitress turned receptionist. Sure, there was mention that she would get paid handsomely for the desk job, but the upkeep was still very questionable (besides she was already wearing nice clothes prior to the makeover). The controversial bespoke white gown alone (read FashionPulis and get updated) must have cost her a fortune. Seriously, where should I send my resumé?

2. As someone completely fascinated with the dealings in Cafe Havana, my curiosity was piqued by the promise of an inside look at the escort service industry. Do rich men really pay to have an escort girlfriend in lavish private functions? How are they different from prostitutes? Since Yassi handled most of the girls’ bookings, does that make her their pimp? With the girls providing extra service, is the business even legal? Sadly, it didn’t really care much about these questions.

3. The movie’s justification for prostitution? “Lahat tayo nagbebenta ng parte ng katawan natin for a living.” Xyruz (Derek Ramsay) then provided examples, like how a doctor would use his brain to perform a surgery, or a painter would utilize his hands to create a masterpiece, or whatever crap he invented to get Yassi to sleep with him.

Jusko naman Xyruz, ganyan na ang spelling ng pangalan mo, ganyan pa ang logic mo! Aba, parang kahit magbenta ako ng kidney ko eh iba pa rin yun sa pagbebenta ng laman. What happened to just using a lame old pick-up line?

4. In Ex with Benefits, Coleen Garcia’s character slept with a dirty old dean so that Derek could take his revalida and graduate from college. In this one, Lovi agreed to sleep with a dirty old man (Christopher de Leon, in full ’00s Christopher de Leon mode) to cover Derek’s medical expenses. Why do these girls do the craziest things for him? Gaano ba talaga kalaki yan, Derek?

5. Tanduay product placement within the first two minutes of the movie. Also, every scene had an establishing shot with the sponsors’ names. One resort had its own montage that included drone shots of the place. Was this a world record in cinema shamelessness?

6. I was happy to see Dimples Romana as one of the escorts, giving hope to other plus-size women dreaming of becoming high-class hookers. She provided the much-needed comic relief, even if some of the jokes were just too weird. In one scene, she was served a birthday (Kink?) cake with boobs on top to which she said, “Blow ko na ba ‘to? Ang liit naman.” Huh?

One rape joke even bordered on being despicable (a girl found it funny that her father raped her after he learned the nature of her work). We’re supposed to laugh? Eww.

7. The escort service’s name was Luxe and a character described the business as “Bayad. Booking. Deal” which really reminded me of OLX (formerly Sulit.com).

8. This was reminiscent of the glossy, cheesy, sexy filth that pervaded in the late ’90s and required a good shower after viewing. There really wasn’t anything original here. Heck, even the villains wore black sando like bouncers.

9. This will most likely be remembered as the movie where a woman was so disgusted with herself for being so impure after losing her virginity that she actually uttered the lines, “Di na ako malinis. Di na ako karapat-dapat mahalin.” Hala bes, 2016 na ganyan ka pa mag-isip!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆