MOVIE REVIEW: ABAKADA… INA (Eddie Garcia, 2001)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Hindi pinili ni Estella (Lorna Tolentino) ang pagiging mangmang. Galing siya sa mahirap na pamilya at nung bata pa siya, kelangan niya maglakad ng higit sampung kilometro makarating lamang sa paaralan. Hindi siya tamad. Sadyang kulang lamang ang oportunidad na available sa kanya. Yung simpleng pagkapigtas ng tsinelas na suot niya ay napakabigat na rason na para piliin niyang wag na pumasok ulit. Hindi niya yun kagustuhan. Wala lang talaga siyang choice.

Lumaki siyang iliterada. Hirap magbasa at hindi man lang umabot sa letter Z ang kaalaman niya sa alphabet. Sinubukan niyang makaahon sa kahirapan sa pagtitinda ng mga kakanin dahil hindi naman siya tamad. Pero sapat lamang ang kita niya para sa mga pang-araw-araw na pangangailangan.

Nakapag-asawa siya at nagkaroon ng tatlong anak. Sa sobrang saklap ng kapalaran niya, ang malditang biyenan (Nida Blanca) niya ay isang kapita-pitagang guro. Wala itong ginawa kundi ipamukha sa kanya na siya ay ignorante. Gumamit ng emotional at psychological manipulation para ilayo ang loob ng mga bata sa kanilang ina. Hindi daw niya deserve ang respeto kasi tanga siya, kahit hindi naman niya piniling maging tanga.

Maraming Estella sa lipunan natin ngayon. Napakadaling kutyain dahil sa estado nila sa buhay. Dahil salat sa yaman at hindi nakapag-aral, kadalasan ang tingin natin ay mas mababang uri sila ng tao. Kahit hindi sila tamad. At kahit hindi nila pinili na maging mahirap at mangmang.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: CIRCA (Adolf Alix, Jr., 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Bilib na bilib ako kay Ms. Anita Linda dito. More than double my age na siya (she’s almost 95!!) pero alam pa rin niya lahat ng mga lines niya dito as the incredibly rich film producer Doña Atang na nakatira sa bahay ni Lola Nidora. Samantala ako hindi ko na maalala minsan saan ko naipatong ang cellphone ko. Iba talaga kapag batikang artista. Totoong walang kupas!!

Napaka-appropriate lang na kasama ito sa Sine Sandaan section ng PPP. May pagka-love letter siya to Philippine Cinema with all the juicy tidbits on the history of local film productions/filmmaking (shooting processes, crucial role ng lagarista, yung diva attitude of certain celebrities, yung rivalry nung mga stars of the golden age, etc.) tapos may mga sundot pa sa current industry (nakakatawa yung sinabi ng character ni Alessandra de Rossi na di na uso ang quality films ngayon kaya puro TV work na lang, na “mouth to mouth” duguan levels ang paggawa).

Mahilig talaga sa all-star cast si Alix (parang halos kalahati ng local film industry may cameo dun sa last movie niya na Madilim ang Gabi) kaya di naman ako nagulat sa mga bigating artista dito kabilang na sina Gina Alajar, Elizabeth Oropesa, Laurice Guillen, Ricky Davao, Liza Lorena, Perla Bautista, etc. Nakakalungkot din makita si Eddie Garcia in full Manoy glory. (Pero kasama ba sa original script yung “Ingat ka baka ka madapa?”. Grabe yung gasp ko sa part na yun nag-echo sa buong theater bilang ako lang ang nanunuod.)

Pinaka-natuwa ako kay Jaclyn Jose dito as the mayordoma of the house. Walang dramatic highlights (except for that weird Amour moment) pero markado ang pagganap. Lakas ng tawa ko nung nag-advocate siya for DVD piracy considering na nagsisilbi siya sa isang producer. Sabagay yung isang character nga sinabi na “Di naman ako namimirata ng local. Puro English lang, makabawi man kang kasi sila ang dahilan bakit tayo humina.” Hmm, magandang topic yan for discussion ha.

Marami siguro ang mababagalan sa pacing ng pelikula pero ok naman siya for me. Medyo mahaba lang at repetitive yung tribute section sa party scene. Pero sobrang fascinated talaga ako in all things na local showbiz kaya nagandahan ako (siguro ang litmus test would be if kaya mo ma-distinguish ang difference ng FAMAS at FAP statues, then this one’s for you). Natuwa din ako dun sa tikbalang na inaalayan ng ponkan kapalit ng box office returns (Mother Lily, what’s your secret?).

Basta sobrang affected ako dito. Nung nag-start na si Doña Atang ng speech niya with “Ang buhay natin ay parang pelikula…”, naluha na lang ako bigla.

Rating: ★★★★☆

THE EXPENDABLES 3 (Patrick Hughes, 2014)

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It’s the pinakbet of Hollywood action stars. With Frasier. Never been fond of pinakbet.

I’m still waiting for our local version starring Bong Revilla, Cesar Montano, Lito Lapid, Ronnie Ricketts, Ian Veneracion, Dante Varona, Jeric Raval, Baldo Marro, Chuck Perez, Jestoni Alarcon, Robin Padilla, and Eddie Garcia.

Paging Mother Lily!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 25, 2014.)

MOVIE REVIEW: ML (Benedict Mique, Jr., 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Reminded me that we rarely get good local thrillers similar to 10 Cloverfield Lane or Don’t Breathe. I probably would have liked this better if it chose to simply focus on being the torture porn that it was and not tried too hard to be relevant by using Martial Law as the main theme (ooh #21 September Street!).

So the only way these Marcos apologist millennials would understand the atrocities of ML was to show Tony’s Labrusca being electrocuted by a deranged colonel? By being nothing more than a series of torture scenes and Valkyrie jokes, didn’t it trivialize the stories of actual victims?

At least the great Eddie Garcia was there to keep things going with his menacing portrayal. Why were we asked to feel sorry for him in the end, though? So what did we really learn?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 8, 2018.)

MOVIE REVIEW: HINTAYAN NG LANGIT (Dan Villegas, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Hintayan ng Langit:

1. Imagine your poor, unfortunate soul in the hereafter rooming with your ex slash TOTGA (The One That Got Away, anubuzz tita!!) and dealing with your unresolved issues. Isn’t that the ultimate definition of purgatory? (Although, if you realized that you still loved your TOTGA long after your heart literally stopped beating, shouldn’t that be the equivalent of eternal hell?)

Manolo (Eddie Garcia) quickly learned this when he started sharing a room with ex-jowa Lisang (Gina Pareño) in said waiting area (also called The Middle) that looked like the final stop before reaching The Good Place (the actual one, not The Bad Place pretending to be The Good Place). Both of them obviously carried a lot of emotional baggage (I was surprised these got through customs in the arrivals area that had an actual x-ray machine). In some weird way, this film actually felt like a sequel of Exes Baggage set fifty years later in the afterlife. 

2. Sobrang daming hugot sa purgatoryo. Pero mas tagos talaga sa puso kapag oldies ang nagbabato ng hugot lines, no? Ramdam mo na walang halong kababawan. Kasi kung namatay ka na’t lahat kakahintay sa ex mo, di pa ba matatawag na true love yun?

3. It was heartbreaking to rewatch one of the final (great) performances of Manoy Eddie, especially since 2018 was another banner year for him with equally commendable turns in ML and Rainbow’s Sunset. I would always remember him as my favorite villain in Fernando Poe, Jr. films where they would play a game of verbal volleyball during that climactic (endless) final showdown. He had this annoyingly iconic way of delivering insults just by elongating most of his syllables that would rival Noli de Castro’s Teeeeveeee Patrol. (Lisang to Manolo: “Ulol! Hindi ka naman si FPJ ano?”)

In this film, he kept teasing her the Manoy way with lines like, “Hay nakooooohh! Ulyanin na si Lisaaaaaang. Pangalan ko lang hindi na matanda-aaaan! Ulyanin na ngaaaahh, malabo pa ang mataaaaaahhh!!” (Surely you read that in his voice. He was that effective, right?)

There was an overwhelming feeling of sadness listening to Manolo/Manoy sharing his regrets on not having the opportunity to properly bid farewell to his family. Nakakaiyak lalo hay. (It also made me wonder how many of our departed loved ones still carried that guilt over their unfinished business.)

4. I loved Gina’s performance here as well the moment she screamed “Mga pukengkay!!” to the noisy kids in the hallway (who morbidly died in a tragic field trip, fyi). It was reminiscent of her hilarious turn as Judy Ann Santos’ mother slash longganisa magnate in Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo. During that bar scene where she was discussing something about local politics, I half-expected her to say “politicians” the Belita way. It was also amusing to see her go toe-to-toe with Manoy and basically play cat and mouse in full juvenile mode (“Excuse me di kita type bleh!!” HAHAHA!). Kinilig din ako dun sa “Am I easy to forget?” ha.

She had two amazing scenes in this film. The first that brought me to tears was when she delivered the line “Dahil ayokong sabihin mo na hindi na naman kita hinintay”. (Waaah!) The other one was when she called her husband Nestor in heaven and said, “Alam mo ba kung bakit sigurado akong mahal kita? Dahil araw-araw kitang pinili”, which was actually bittersweet given the eventual ending.

Also, tawang-tawa ako sa pagkasabi niya ng Zest-O as Syes-to.

5. There were a lot of details in this interpretation of the afterlife that I really liked, from the support group that provided counselling for the recently departed that were in denial, the surge of souls arriving that were killed due to tokhang, that the vow of marriage might have its limits (‘Till death do us part, diba?), and the portal that could connect the living and the dead.

My favorite one from the admirable production design was that blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sign in the elevator that stated the maximum capacity of 10 souls and weight of 210 grams. It reminded so much of Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu’s 21 Grams (the second film in his Death Trilogy) that included the line: “They say we all lose 21 grams at the exact moment of our death.” Yup, there was an actual scientific study done that determined the probable weight of one’s soul. (At least kahit sa kaluluwa man lang magaan ako.)

6. Politicians woman: “What really matters is the void we leave behind.” 

Lisang: “Pero hindi ba mas mahalaga na makita mong masaya yung mga naiwan mo?”

Points to ponder.

7. Nung nawala ang kalasingan ni Lisang sa pagtawag ni Esther na asawa ni Manolo, nasagot ang tanong sa kung ano ang best cure for a hangover. Obviously, jelly. As in jealousy.

8. If there was one thing that I learned when Manolo arrived late at the pier thus forever altering their lives, it was the importance of punctuality. I would never, ever be late to anything ever again. (Hopefully.)

9. That final shot. Goosebumps!! (Pero napaisip din ako gaano kadaming multo ang nakasakay sa eroplano. Goosebumps ulit.)

Rating: ★★★★☆

YEAR-END MOVIE REVIEW: THE BEST OF PINOY CINEMA 2018

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1. THERESE MALVAR (Distance)

2. MOI BIEN (Kuya Wes)

3. CHERIE GIL (Citizen Jake)

4. GILLETH SANDICO (Sol Searching)

5. INA RAYMUNDO (Kuya Wes)

6. DEVON SERON (Bakwit Boys)

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1. MENGGIE COBARRUBIAS (Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon)

2. NICO ANTONIO (Delia & Sammy)

3. KETCHUP EUSEBIO (Mamang)

4. NICCO MANALO (Gusto Kita With All My Hypothalamus)

5. EJ JALLORINA (Mamu; And A Mother Too)

6. JM SALVADO (Sol Searching)

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1. GLAIZA DE CASTRO (Liway)

2. IYAH MINA (Mamu; And a Mother Too)

3. GINA PAREÑO (Hintayan ng Langit)

4. POKWANG (Oda sa Wala)

5. CELESTE LEGASPI (Mamang)

6. NADINE LUSTRE (Never Not Love You)

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1. DANTE RIVERO (Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon)

2. EDDIE GARCIA (Hintayan ng Langit)

3. DINGDONG DANTES (Sid and Aya: Not a Love Story)

4. NONIE BUENCAMINO (Distance)

5. EDDIE GARCIA (ML)

6. JAIME FABREGAS (Delia & Sammy)

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1. SA SAIYANG ISLA (Christian Candelaria)

2. GABI NG KABABALAGHAN (Stephen Lopez)

3. LUISA AT GUADA (Jude Matanguihan)

4. BOYET LOVES YOU (Josel Fajardo)

5. DUYAN NG ALON (Kaye Banaag)

—-

TOP 10 FEATURE LENGTH FILMS

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#10

Written by: Keavy Eunice Vicente

Directed by: Perci Intalan

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#9

Written and directed by: Samantha Lee

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#8

Written by: Juan Miguel Severo

Directed by: Dan Villegas

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#7

Written by: John Carlo Pacala

Directed by: Carlo Catu

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#6

Written and directed by: Dwein Baltazar

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#5

Written and directed by: Rod Singh

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#4

Written and directed by: Antoinette Jadaone

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#3

Written and directed by: Dwein Baltazar

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#2

Written by: Kenneth Lim Dagatan, Eduardo Dayao

Directed by: Kenneth Lim Dagatan

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#1

Written by: Kip Oebanda, Zig Dulay

Directed by: Kip Oebanda

—-

And here’s my 2018 scorecard:

★★★★★

GABI NG KABABALAGHAN (Stephen Lopez)

LIWAY (Kip Oebanda)

LUISA AT GUADA (Jude Matanguihan)

MA (Kenneth Lim Dagatan)

SA SAIYANG ISLA (Christian Candelaria)

—-

★★★★☆

ALL GROWN UP (Wena Sanchez)

BAKWIT BOYS (Jason Paul Laxamana)

BILLIE & EMMA (Samantha Lee)

BOYET LOVES YOU (Josel Fajardo)

DELIA & SAMMY (Therese Cayaba)

DISTANCE (Perci Intalan)

DUYAN NG ALON (Kaye Banaag)

GUSTO KITA WITH ALL MY HYPOTHALAMUS (Dwein Baltazar)

HINTAYAN NG LANGIT (Dan Villegas)

KOLEKSYONG PAMALO (Len Frago)

KUNG PAANO HINIHINTAY ANG DAPITHAPON (Carlo Catu)

MAMU (AND A MOTHER TOO) (Rod Singh)

NEVER NOT LOVE YOU (Antoinette Jadaone)

ODA SA WALA (Dwein Baltazar)

SOL SEARCHING (Roman Perez, Jr.)

—-

★★★☆☆

ALAS-NUEBE NG TANGHALI (Enalyn Legaspi)

ANONYMOUS STUDENT VLOG (Christian Babista)

BAHAY-BAHAYAN (Brian Spencer Reyes)

ANG DALAWANG MRS. REYES (Jun Lana)

CITIZEN JAKE (Mike de Leon)

EXES BAGGAGE (Dan Villegas)

ISANG TULA PARA SA NAWAWALA (Rod Singh)

JODILERKS DELA CRUZ, EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH (Carlo Manatad)

MGA ANAK NG KAMOTE (Carlo Catu)

MISS GRANNY (Joyce Bernal)

NANGUNGUPAHAN (Glenn Barit)

KUYA WES (James Mayo)

PAGLISAN (Carl Joseph Papa)

PAG-UKIT SA PANINIWALA (Hiyas Baldemor Bagabaldo)

PARA SA BROKENHEARTED (Digo Ricio)

.RAW (Eugine Frondoza)

SI ASTRI MAKA SI TAMBULAH (Xeph Suarez)

SID & AYA (NOT A LOVE STORY) (Irene Villamor)

SIGNAL ROCK (Chito Roño)

SIN ISLAND (Gino Santos)

—-

★★☆☆☆

1957 (Hubert Tibi)

AMUSIN PA (Raiza Masculino)

ANG BABAENG ALLERGIC SA WIFI (Jun Lana)

BABYLON (Keith Deligero)

BATO BATO PIK (Ardinian Sanque, Lorys Plaza)

BINATA NA (Dexter de Jesus)

BUYBUST (Erik Matti)

THE DAY AFTER VALENTINE’S (Jason Paul Laxamana)

THE ETERNITY BETWEEN SECONDS (Alec Figuracion)

EVERYBODY LOVES BABY WENDY (Wenn Deramas, Alan Chanliongco)

EXCUSE ME PO (Ronald Batallones)

THE GIRL IN THE ORANGE DRESS (Jay Abello)

GLORIOUS (Connie Macatuno)

GOYO: ANG BATANG HENERAL (Jerrold Tarog)

THE HOPEFUL ROMANTIC (Topel Lee)

THE HOWS OF US (Cathy Garcia-Molina)

I LOVE YOU, HATER (Giselle Andres)

JACK EM POPOY: THE PULISCREDIBLES (Michael Tuviera)

KUNG PAANO SIYA NAWALA (Joel Ruiz)

LOGRO (Kani Villaflor)

MADILIM ANG GABI (Adolf Alix, Jr.)

MAMANG (Denise O’Hara)

MAMA’S GIRL (Connie Macatuno)

MARY, MARRY ME (RC delos Reyes)

MASAYA AKO (Daniel Delgado, Tiara Nicolas)

MASLA A PAPANOK (Gutierrez Mangansakan II)

MATA TAPANG (Rod Marmol)

MEET ME IN ST. GALLEN (Irene Villamor)

ML (Benedict Mique)

MR. & MRS. CRUZ (Sigrid Andrea Bernardo)

MUSMOS NA SUMIBOL SA GUBAT NG DIGMA (Iar Lionel Arondaing)

MY PERFECT YOU (Cathy Garcia-Molina)

MY 2 MOMMIES (Eric Quizon)

ANG PAMBANSANG THIRD WHEEL (Ivan Andrew Payawal)

PAN DE SALAWAL (Che Espiritu)

ANG PANAHON NG HALIMAW (Lav Diaz)

PINAY BEAUTY (SHE’S NO WHITE) (Jay Abello)

RAINBOW’S SUNSET (Joel Lamangan)

RUFYLA (Coleen Tanco)

RUNNER (Levi Miscala)

SCHOOL SERVICE (Louie Ignacio)

A SHORT HISTORY OF A FEW BAD THINGS (Keith Deligero)

SI APONIBOLINAYEN AT ANG MGA BATANG LUMILIPAD (April Aspiras)

SINGLE/SINGLE: LOVE IS NOT ENOUGH (Veronica Velasco, Pablo Biglang-awa)

SIYUDAD SA BULAWAN (Jarell Serencio)

TANABATA’S WIFE (Lito Casaje, Charlson Ong, Choy Pangilinan)

THREE WORDS TO FOREVER (Cathy Garcia-Molina)

TO LOVE SOME BUDDY (Jason Paul Laxamana)

WE WILL NOT DIE TONIGHT (Richard Somes)

—-

★☆☆☆☆

ABAY BABES (Don Cuaresma)

ABOMINATION (Yam Laranas)

ALIMUOM (Keith Sicat)

ALL SOULS NIGHT (Aloy Adlawan, Jules Katanyag)

AMNESIA LOVE (Albert Langitan)

ATE, KUYA, GUSTO KONG KAPE (Mark Bayani)

AURORA (Yam Laranas)

BAGYONG BHEVERLYNN (Charliebebs Gohetia)

CLASS OF 2018 (Charliebebs Gohetia)

CRY NO FEAR (Richard Somes)

DOTGA: DA ONE THAT GHOST AWAY (Tony Reyes)

DOUBLE TWISTING DOUBLE BACK (Joseph Abello)

EL PESTE (Richard Somes)

FANTASTICA (Barry Gonzalez)

FIRST LOVE (Paul Soriano)

HOSPICIO (Bobby Bonifacio, Jr.)

JACQUELINE COMES HOME (Ysabelle Peach)

KASAL (Ruel Bayani)

KAUYAGAN (WAY OF LIFE) (Julienne Ilagan)

KIKO (Jojo Driz)

KUSINA KINGS (Victor Villanueva)

LASINGTUNADO (Miguel Fernandez)

THE LOOKOUT (Afi Africa)

MELODRAMA/RANDOM/MELBOURNE! (Matthew Pastor)

MY FAIRY TAIL LOVE STORY (Perci Intalan)

NAKALIMUTAN KO NANG KALIMUTAN KA (Fifth Solomon)

NEVER TEAR US APART (Whammy Alcazaren)

ONE GREAT LOVE (Enrico Quizon)

OTLUM (Joven Tan)

PANG-MMK (John Lapus)

THE SIGNIFICANT OTHER (Joel Lamangan)

THROUGH NIGHT & DAY (Veronica Velasco)

TRES (Richard Somes, Dondon Santos)

TUGMA (Joshua Tayco)

UNLI-LIFE (Miko Livelo)

YAKAP (Mika Fabella, Rafael Froilan)

 

Until next year!!

MOVIE REVIEW: OUR BRAND IS CRISIS (David Gordon Green, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Our Brand Is Crisis:

1. From the very start, Sandra Bullock’s character Jane Bodine set the tone of the movie by saying things like “I could convince myself anything… at a price” or “Truth is relative”. Also called “Calamity Jane” by her peers, she was a political consultant/strategist (think a less-fashionable Olivia Pope in a scruffy beige jacket) tasked to clean up the image and campaign of a Bolivian presidential candidate. This movie couldn’t have been any timelier given our country’s current political climate.

2. A lot of the things that were shown here should be familiar to our nation (or any nation for that matter) during election season: a deluge of idiotic political ads with crappy jingles, smear campaigns aimed to generate disgust or fear of an opposing candidate, politicians carrying babies or singing in general assemblies, candidates crying in interviews to generate sympathy from voters. Basically every trick in the campaign book was covered and although these weren’t new to anybody, the scenes were still depressingly hilarious because of its authenticity (fake tears and all).

3. One really funny scene showed the group shooting a lame commercial involving a llama. It ran out of the building and got hit by a car prompting Sandra to say “He’d rather kill himself than be in our commercial.”

4. Politics is a joke in itself so I couldn’t really understand why the movie had to resort to groan-worthy slapstick for laughs. Sandra may be a pro with that brand of comedy but seeing her fall from a broken chair, constantly throw up, moon people, and have trouble closing a van’s window was completely unnecessary. The elastic bra prank didn’t really add anything to the story.

5. Joachim de Almeida who played the Bolivian candidate they were saving looked so much like Eddie Garcia. Look him up.

Also, a lot of the viewers kept saying that he was eerily similar to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte (lagging in current polls, has temper issues, etc.). Duterte’s supporters (Duterters?), there is still hope. You know who to call.

6. The endless quotes uttered in the movie from Sun Tzu to Warren Beatty to Muhammad Ali reminded me so much of Tito Boy Abunda. He would be the type of host that would blurt out things like “Friedrich Nietzsche said, ‘If you fight monsters for too long, you become one'” while asking Angelica Panganiban to confirm her breakup with John Lloyd Cruz.

7. Speaking of quotes, one scene involved a rival campaign manager not doing a fact check before feeding a (mis)quote to his candidate. I guess he wasn’t too smart after all.

8. The Cult of the Cosmic Wind sounded like a group that converged inside my stomach after eating at Mexicali.

9. During the presidential debate, a candidate was asked a tough question about constitutional reform for indigenous people of Bolivia. I was so happy that nobody replied “PILLS!!”, although that would have made a funnier movie.

10. Why do characters always have to grow a conscience in the end? To quote Tito Boy quoting George R.R. Martin, “A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good. Each should have its own reward.”

Rating: ★★★☆☆