THIS TIME (Nuel Naval, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on This Time:

1. I could easily relate to Ava’s (Nadine Lustre) hate for summer. It was bad enough that the six-pack abs that I wished for last Christmas did not magically show up this month in time for Laboracay (I hate you Santa!), this was also my dreaded season of extreme sunshine and salty sweating. Her reason was completely different from mine, of course: her assumed childhood boyfriend Coby only visited (and left her) every summer, but hey, if James Reid (How to be you po?) were to spend time with anyone even for just a day, that person would be eternally thankful. Show some gratitude girl! (You didn’t even wish that from Santa!)

2. With a coffin on display in their sala and with the family living in a funeral home (named Buhay Funeral Homes, naturally), I got a lot of the Six Feet Under vibe. Except that Frances Conroy never really danced like a loon around a corpse (although she should have).

The dining table was right next to the sala and the family had what looked like dinuguan and bopis for lunch. I could never imagine myself eating dinuguan and bopis inside a funeral home. Wait, I could never imagine myself eating dinuguan and bopis. Period.

3. The Buhay Family was supposed to be funny, but they were just annoying. Candy Pangilinan who was spectacular in Star Na Si Van Damme Stallone resorted back to her irritating tics as a comedian with the belief that the louder she said her line, the funnier it would be. (Uh, no.) Also, why did these supporting characters always say supposedly funny lines in unison? Are we forever stuck with this kind of comedy?

4. Nadine was really playing Marcelo Santos III with all her endless hugot lines and empty platitudes on love and long-distance relationships. These were some of her groan-worthy bon mots:

• “Ang love ay parang traffic. Susuot ka kung saan-saan pero mararating mo rin ang destinasyon mo.”

• “Sa pagiging loyal ko nga dapat may loyalty card na ako na may points eh.”

Of course her loud and shrill friends (Ultimate Kakaibabe Donnalyn Bartolome, etc.) had to contribute their own terrible lines that included this classic:

“Ang relationship na walang label, parang damit sa ukay. Ang labo!” (Huh? Malabo yung damit sa ukay? Labhan mo kasi teh!)

4. Why did Ava really hate summer? Cue flashback. Include a lengthy story about Ava and Coby as kids because we terribly need a filler to support such a simple love story. Flashbacks should have a comic book effect. The Marvel-er, the better. Throw in the Snapchat filters because they’re so cool nowadays! Wait, we need a beach scene. Ok, sa Japan naman! When does this flashback end? What? End na ng movie? Ano ‘to ukay? Bakit ang labo?

5. The only ice cream that ever existed in this universe was Selecta Cornetto. I was surprised that it didn’t have its own major billing in the credits. It had a more substantial role (and acted better) than Bret Jackson, to be honest.

6. The first young boy that played James didn’t look like him at all. The teenage Nadine, on the other hand, looked exactly like her because it was really Nadine, only in pigtails, dressed in overalls, and acting immature.

7. I couldn’t actually recall crying over the break-up of celebrities. Hmm, okay, I think I teared up a bit when Kris Aquino broke it off with Joey Marquez, but only because my ears could only handle all the STD talk.

In this movie, we knew the passage of time because Ava cried every time a celebrity couple called it quits (Jen & Brad, Zac & Vanessa). Oh, and also because of the local history on popular diseases (H1N1). Fortunately, there was no mention of STD.

8. Full disclosure: I had never really liked a JaDine movie. Diary ng Panget was icky and that Talk Back one made me wish I were dead. I became an instant fan because of On The Wings of Love, where their scorching chemistry was in full display. It was still here in this movie, only it wasn’t given enough to really shine. A great love team could only do so much to salvage terrible material. The first kiss didn’t elicit any kilig, the pottery scene was a bore, and the final painting scene (while they were wearing white, que horror said my OCD self!) was pure umay.

9. For the first time in Philippine cinema history, I saw the brilliant Ronnie Lazaro struggle in a role and it was for playing a gay guy who loved dogs. How sad. Speaking of, if you know a bachelor with dogs that they call babies and you’re wondering why he’s still single…

10. If there was one thing that I really liked here, it was that sweet little sub-plot involving Nova Villa and Freddie Webb (reminiscent of their romance in 1st Ko Si 3rd, or if you’re way older Chicks to Chicks). Their love story set amidst the cherry blossoms was everything that this movie wanted to be.

11. “Ayoko na kausap ang monitor, ayoko na kayakap ang iPad, ayoko na ka-kiss ang cellphone.” This line made me sad. Only because this girl was really cray. Eh di wag mo gawin, girl!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

GIRLFRIEND FOR HIRE (Vanessa de Leon, 2016

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Girlfriend for Hire:

1. It was only a couple of years ago when they showed Bride for Rent, a Star Cinema rom-com where a hilarious Kim Chiu played the beard of the wooden Xian Lim. She pretended to be his future bride because she desperately needed money and he plotted the whole charade to please his grandmother (and get his trust fund).

Girlfriend for Hire had the exact same plot. Nami (Yassi Pressman) needed scholarship money so she agreed to be the pretend girlfriend of Bryle (Andre Paras) whose desperate grandfather wanted him to continue their Stanford legacy.

Seriously though, why couldn’t these rich, decent, good-looking men land real girlfriends? Made me wonder if it was an equipment or gender issue. And why do these movies always involve renting/hiring women? May I suggest Boytoy for Lease with KC Concepcion and Piolo Pascual?

2. I found it off that Bryle kept treating Nami like shit and it was supposed to be funny and romantic. In one scene, he actually commanded her to “get down on (her) knees and give it to (him)”. In another scene, out of selos, he dragged her inside a room like Chris Brown being sweet to Rihanna. The worst was when he ate the only piece of chocolate strawberry cake that she was craving for. As a fat kid outside, I felt her physical and emotional pain.

3. I love the Yassi-Andre love team not only because they’re bagay but also because they’re not annoying actors (they even had the most genuine onscreen kiss in this movie). I guess I was surprised when the usually charming Andre was forced to let loose (eyes popping, nostrils flaring, spittle flying) and overact like he was auditioning for a The Mask sequel. In his previous (terrible) movies (Diary ng Panget, Your Place or Mine?), he was funny without even trying. I hope they get way better projects soon. Sayang ang potential.

4. I therefore conclude that the Ultimate Kakaibabe Donnalyn Bartolome is the new Nikki Valdez.

5. My favorite scenes in the movie were:

• When Bryle’s alta grandfather showed him a Powerpoint presentation (presumably made by a 6-year old) of the country’s eligible bachelorettes that he probably met in Cafe Havana

• When Nami mindlessly crossed the street under the pouring rain and Bryle almost hit her with his car and he screamed, “Anong ginagawa mo sa gitna ng ulan?” (Hindi talaga sa gitna ng kalsada??)

• When Nami took Bryle to a palengke and he had the gall to complain about his ruined outfit (white shorts and Toms) (Wait, sarado ba ang lahat ng supermarkets?)

• When Nami’s hot neighbor saw all the ingredients of pesto pasta (noodles, pesto sauce) and correctly guessed that she was preparing the said dish, she acted all shocked and asked, “Paano mo nalaman??” (Girl, it doesn’t take a chef to know that.)

6. Product placements galore. The SMDC sign (complete with Sarah G.’s face) was shown every thirty minutes. I think they even used the exact same room in The Breakup Playlist.

Also, after eating a heavy meal (three cups of rice and all), Bryle still ordered a Greenwich Barkada-Size Ultimate Overload and I knew that was what he ordered because the Greenwich delivery guy loudly said it at the door (“Hello Sir! Here’s your order of one Greenwich Barkada-Size Ultimate Overload!”). Now that got me hungry. Product placement worked.

7. You know this was a fantasy because the lovely Yassi still had her own makeover montage (when all she needed to do was comb her hair). Weirdly enough, she reminded me so much of Mailes Kanapi (please tell me I’m not crazy).

Also, Yassi preferred Andre’s baby fats over her abstastic neighbor (you immediately knew that she didn’t like hottie neighbor because she devoured an entire chicken right in front of him).

8. The last minute introduction of Shy Carlos as Bryle’s girlfriend didn’t serve any purpose except to ensure that the movie reached its quota of Viva talents.

Again, better movies for them, please!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆