MOVIE REVIEW: EDSA WOOLWORTH (John-D Lazatin, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Edsa Woolworth:

1. The poster spoke the truth when it mentioned that the movie was all about the family. It was basically a slice of life dramedy about an unconventional family based in San Francisco. Sadly, it was also as bland as its tagline.

2. Pokwang was able to flex her dramatic muscles a few years back with the TFC-produced A Mother’s Story, a fine enough film about an OFW that only turned silly during its last act. She seemed more relaxed here as Edsa, hitting every cue with her good comic timing (“Are you good in bed?”, “I love balls!”) or quick-flowing tears.

3. Surprisingly, Pokwang’s performance was overshadowed by Ricci Chan, a gifted theater actor who was just a delight to watch in a major role on the big screen. Sure he still had some noticeable tics especially during confrontation scenes but he just delivered his lines with aplomb, whether he was mentioning the 500-thread count of his Egyptian cotton sheets to his cheating boyfriend or verbalizing the hidden emotions of just about any gay person.

4. What kind of parent would name his/her child Epifania delos Santos Woolworth? Besides, wouldn’t this just be Eds Woolworth?

5. All Americans in the movie were just too nice. Edsa’s Caucasian father was a paradigm of kindness, a massage client allowed her to sprawl out on the master bed, and a store manager even let her finish her nap on a bed display (and even took her out to dinner after!).

6. I was surprised to see Lee Robin Salazar again. Wasn’t he part of the Manoeuvres and even played a bit role in that classic Viva movie, Do Re Mi? Tell me I’m not crazy.

7. It was weird to watch kissing scenes with mouths fully closed. Just me? Okay.

8. There was really nothing much to propel the story forward. The tender moments just couldn’t compensate for the tedium of the rest of the film. It even threw in a predictable twist in the last act after supposedly tying up all loose ends.

9. Happy ending! Sad ending! Happy ending!! Sad ending!! Happy ending!!!!!

10. I guess that marriage wouldn’t last long since it was sukob.

11. I actually cringed at that final scene where a dead major character was on a hill smiling at the happy living family members. Eek!

12. Overheard during the movie:
“Naka-try ka na ng jacuzzi?”
“Oo, sa Pansol.”

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 15, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: SANA’Y WALA NANG WAKAS (Leroy Salvador, 1986)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas:

1. Even before the classic Pinoy LGBTQ film Do Re Mi manifested the power of female camaraderie through musical numbers, there was this movie in the late 80’s (probably inspired by the Broadway musical Dreamgirls) that showcased the value of friendship.

If it weren’t obvious enough, the girl group composed of Bianca Eleazar (Sharon Cuneta), Monique Verzosa (Cherie Gil), and Michelle Williams, er, Camille Gonzaga (Dina Bonnevie) was actually named “Friends” and their go-to song was “That’s What Friends Are For” (sung during the opening scene while they wore shiny, silky costumes with gigantic ribbons on the chest area, probably borrowed from the Boyoyong clowns).

Also, Sharon sported a female mullet. Let that sink in.

2. There was one incredibly long montage (worth one full song, I think) where Bianca and Teddy (Tonton Gutierrez, terrible in an Aljur Abrenica way) toured Luzon and it could have been used as a tourist ad for the Philippines (Have some buko juice in Tagaytay! Jet ski in Taal Lake!).

At one point, Teddy dove head first in a shallow pond to get a lotus flower. I thought he was trying to catch a frog, but then it wouldn’t match with Bianca’s ever-changing ribbons on her ponytail.

Naudlot pa ang first kiss nila nang biglang dumating ang order nila na…Pepsi! (We would always complain about product placements in today’s films, but apparently it had been shamelessly done even before. This one also had blatant shills for Master Sardines and Silver Swan Soy Sauce.)

3. It was sad to see the late Dindo Fernando again here, especially since he was one of the finest actors in local cinema that was gone too soon. As Bianca’s father slash music composer, he brought a lot of depth in his character who was prone to making silly decisions.

Upon learning that he had terminal cancer, he did some soul-searching by walking the entire stretch of Manila Bay. He also abandoned his family because he didn’t want to be a pabigat for them, but ultimately returned home for one last deathbed duet. (By the way, this scene was so effective that I was a blubbering mess when it ended. Galing din ni Ate Shawie dito.)

4. As expected, jealousy and fame were the reasons for the group’s eventual break-up. I would have guessed that it was actually Dina’s singing voice because she just sounded awful (refer to Barbie Forteza’s viral video).

There was a scene where Camille was singing drunk and another one where she was warbling while sobbing uncontrollably and she didn’t sound any different from her supposedly better days. She more than made up for it in acting though because I really loved the scene where she started throwing beer bottles at her gay BFF Manny Castaneda.

5. Sample dialogue…

• Teddy being defiant to his overbearing father: “Pigain mo man ako, di mo mapipiga ang musika sa buhay ko!” (Nux!!)

• Teddy’s matapobre father to Bianca: “Magkano ang kelangan mo para layuan ang anak ko?”

Bianca with matching flaring nostrils: “Magkano ang kaya nyong ibayad? Bilhin nyo sya ng pera nyo. Bibilhin ko sya ng pag ibig ko!” (Applause! Standing ovation!!)

6. Burning questions:

• If Bianca was so famous that she was being mobbed by fans, why did she take a cab during her walk-out scene?

• How did Bianca and Monique become huge recording stars if most of their songs were remakes? Greatest Love of All vs Through the Fire? (Sabagay, diamond artist si Nina.)

• What happened to breach of contract? How could Monique miss the farewell concert of the group and get away with it? And did Bianca really have to sing Part-Time Lover (with matching luha) after seeing Camille and Teddy kiss?

• Hindi pa ba uso ang aircon noon? Bakit ang nasa loob ng dressing room nila ay isang malaking electric fan?

7. It was so funny how all the conflicts were magically resolved during the final musical number of Bianca. In this scene, the song composed by her dearly-departed dad won the top prize in a music festival that suddenly turned into her concert, complete with surprise appearances by Monique and Camille.

Friendship was restored, a marriage proposal was done, and Manny Castaneda remained a faithful alalay.

Never, ever question the power of a Willy Cruz song.

Rating: ★★★☆☆