MOVIE REVIEW: ABANDONADA (Joel Lamangan, 2000)

6FB94489-0BF1-43EC-A781-A1122DCDA1EE

SPOILER ALERT!!

Bakit nga ba naging masama ang connotation ng salitang “katulong”? Masasabihan ka agad na bastos at matapobre kapag yan ang ginamit mo sa halip na “kasambahay”. Malinaw naman na ang root word nito ay tulong kaya angkop na translation ng house help. Wala naman nakakahiya o nakakababa sa pagtulong. Kapag naririnig ko nga ang salitang kasambahay parang kasama lang sa bahay at walang ginagawa kahit sila talaga ang nagbabanat ng buto araw-araw.

Anyway, naalala ko lang yan kasi pre-woke era pa ang pelikulang ito. Masasabihan ngayon na hindi politically-correct bilang katulong pa ang gamit na salita. Very Pinoy ang drama kasi si Gemma (Maricel Soriano) na nakulong sa Canada at nahiwalay sa kanyang anak ay umuwi ng Pilipinas matapos makalaya at namasukan bilang maid sa mismong bahay ng kanyang asawang si Edwin (Edu Manzano) na kasal na sa ibang babaeng si Cindy (Angelu de Leon). (Nahilo ba kayo slight?)

Maayos naman ang paglalahad ng class distinctions. Sa sobrang laki ng bahay ay bihira magkita ang mga may-ari at mga kasambahay. Advantage ito para kay Gemma kasi hindi siya pwedeng mamukhaan ng demonyo niyang ex (na sa mga flashbacks ay ipinakitang lasenggero at abusive).

Pero dahil nga very Pinoy ang takbo ng kwento, naging conventional sa bandang gitna na umabot sa sampalan, kidnapan, at barilan sa loob ng isang sinehan (na di nalalayo sa ginamit sa Serbis). Nawala ang malinaw na motivations ng mga characters. Parang lahat sila biglang hindi na nag-iisip ng tama.

Sayang kasi ang daming themes na interesting kung natutukan lang. Yung family abandonment issue related sa OFWs, yung subplot ng euthanasia, at kahit yung battered wife syndrome. Very burgis pa ng character ni Cindy kasi after siya bugbugin ng asawa eh naisipan niyang… mag-horseback riding. Yes, basag ang mukha niya pero ang cute ng equestrian outfit niya.

Yan talaga ang hirap kapag hindi mo nakikita ang iyong mga kasama sa bahay. Walang magsasabi na kelangan mo pa dagdagan ang iyong concealer.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: JUST A STRANGER (Jason Paul Laxamana, 2019)

4600C22F-1C77-46B0-8ECE-1A9D719661C1

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Just a Stranger:

1. Sobrang tagal na pala since my last confession. (Mababasa ito ng nanay ko kaya, Sorry ma, I’m not proud of it.) Feeling ko sa haba ng listahan ng kasalanan na ikukumpisal ko, baka mauna pa matapos ang Probinsyano bago ang pag-uusap namin ni Father.

Eh paano pa kung kasing-chismoso siya ng pari dun sa simbahan ni Mae (Anne Curtis) na nagpa-kuwento ng bawat detalye ng adulterous affair niya with Jekjek (Marco Gumabao)? Yung inabot sila ng halos dalawang oras kasi kelangan niya talaga malaman kung ilang beses nag-sex yung mga cheater bago maka-prescribe ng penance (one Hail Mary ba ang norm for every instance?).

Tapos kelangan may comic relief na sisilipin niya kung gaano talaga kaganda si cougar Mae na nahumaling sa kanya ang isang teenager. At para mas nakakatawa, may reaction siya na “My God! Oh shit, sorry!” na feeling ko katumbas ng isang Sorrowful Mystery. Okay ka lang ba, Father?

(Pero salamat sa refresher on the difference between mortal and venial sins, I guess.)

2. Bilang dating president ng Reyster-Ems Fans Club – Las Piñas Chapter, alam ko na ka-love team ni Anne sa T.G.I.S. si Chubi del Rosario (who was several batches lower sa akin sa Zobel) so parang ang hirap maniwala na she was playing somebody around my age. Common naman for actors to play roles na way older or younger than their actual (or screen) age pero may binabagayan din siguro.

Hindi ko talaga matanggap na 40ish na si Anne dito at doble ng edad ni Marco (na mukha namang mid-20s). Malayong-malayo sa casting ng recent May-December love affairs na kakapanood ko lang from Glorious (Angel Aquino-Tony Labrusca) to Belle Douleur (Mylene Dizon-Kit Thompson) to Malamaya (Sunshine Cruz-Enzo Pineda).

Ang off lang nung tinawag si Mae na “tita” at tinawag niya namang “totoy” si Jekjek kasi papasa pa silang halos magkaedad (does that make me “lolo” levels ganern?). Hindi ba available si Alice Dixson?

3. Maliban sa kabit factor, selling point ng pelikula ang promised steamy love scenes na hindi ko naman masyadong naramdaman. Sobrang hot nina Anne and Marco (as in yung sexual attraction sa kanila transcends any gender; their characters even shamelessly described themselves as “attractive, winnable, charismatic”) pero parang walang heat or passion kapag magkasama na sila sa kama (or their chosen place of torjakan).

Konting halik, konting himas, tapos na agad ang eksena at pawisan na sila parehong nakahiga. I didn’t expect naman na dapat super graphic, extended, or gratuitous ang sex scenes pero at the very least ramdam yung electricity between them as soon as their bodies touched, diba? Yung parang kelangan mo ng cold shower para mahimasmasan katulad nung pagkatapos ko mapanood ang Unfaithful.

Pero wala talaga eh. Baka dun pumapasok na para nga silang mag-tita. (Btw, ang weird nung “Mobile Legends” reference.)

4. Given naman na magaling umarte si Anne. Kita mo yung loneliness sa mata niya bilang trophy wife kaya nagawa niyang lokohin ang kanyang asawa (Edu Manzano). (Side note: Bakit nga ba hindi issue ang age gap sa atin kapag lalaki ang mas matanda?)

May hint of repressed naughtiness din siya kaya madalas mag-give in sa temptations. Yung restrained niya na pag-iyak sa balcony scenes were impressive. Also, parang siya lang ang kayang magdala nung glamorous alta look pa rin habang nakasakay sa sidecar with her oversized abaniko.

Alam ko they were going for realism in terms of ugly crying (as in uhog levels ni Tita Viola Davis) pero nagtawanan (at nandiri?) ang mga tao nung nag-stretch na parang cheese sa pizza ang laway niya habang umiiyak sa kitchen. Not a fan of her acting din sa eulogy dream sequence.

5. On the other hand, okay lang ang performance ni Marco. Hindi naman siya nilamon (even literally) ni Anne. Medyo malamya lang talaga ang acting niya when the role required an immature, feeling alpha-male boy. Yung kelangan ng conviction ang pag-overcompensate niya sa sarili with lines like “You guys can take turns on me, I can go all night” kahit alam mo lalabasan talaga siya after 30 seconds. At least believable siya magsuot ng brief.

(Also, I’m officially declaring 2019 as the Year of the Cinematic Pwet.)

6. Tbh medyo nagulat ako sa output ni Jason Paul Laxamana this time kasi maayos siya na writer at storyteller. Yung tipong aawayin ka niya on social media pero wala kang malait masyado sa body of work niya kasi usually nga malinis talaga ang mga gawa niya (my favorites are still Mercury is Mine and Bakwit Boys).

Dito parang ang sloppy ng screenplay pati technical aspects. May sub-plot about Mae’s fibromyalgia na walang pinatunguhan. May eksena na nagtanggal siya ng heels in full view of other guests kahit sobrang sophisticated ng character niya. Minsan hindi ko alam kung gusto nilang maging discreet or mahuli ng ibang tao (part ba ng thrill yung naglaplapan sila sa kotseng wala namang tint?). Bigla na lang hindi na issue ang age gap nung dulo.

Pero ang worst for me was the ending. Grabe lang yung cringe factor dun na may linyahang “Who are you?” tapos sumagot si Mae ng “No one…” at nakisabay ang buong sinehan sa pagsabi ng “I’m just a stranger”. Juskopong mahabagin.

7. Cherie Gil was onscreen for a good five minutes and ended up as the most memorable character. Eksenadora ang tita mo talaga. Oh wait, don’t call her tita pala!

(At teka, naguluhan ako nung nilandi ni Edu si Cherie kasi apparently he was “into women (his) own age” pero si Mae ang asawa niya. Ano ba talaga ang type niya?)

8. Irita ako dun sa girlfriend na Febbie simula nung fake surprise scene niya (na ewan ko paano siya nagtago sa likod ng parents ni Jekjek) hanggang dun sa chaka niya na pag-iyak sa church. Mas bagay siguro yung girl sa role ni Diablita (the doll).

9. Ang pinaka-suspension of disbelief talaga para sa akin dito (maliban sa supposed age gap) ay yung super rich kid ni Jekjek kasi sinustentuhan siya ng tatay niya para tumira sa Tokyo, Washington, at Lisbon tapos ang suot niya lagi na undies eh Bench Body.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: AMA, INA, ANAK (Jose Javier Reyes, 1996)

0D208871-E71E-454D-99FB-47F85D30518F

“There are more ways of gaining fulfillment as a woman maliban sa pagiging isang mabuting ina at asawa. Eh kung yan ang gusto ng Mother Nature eh di sana anim ang dede natin sa katawan.”

I really love the wit and humor of Joey Reyes’ screenplays. His insights on gender politics in the ‘90s were just spot-on. He has also mastered the art of emotional manipulation, this time related to infertility issues and adoption (in one heartbreaking scene, the adopted kid played by Angelica Panganiban asked a pregnant Maricel Soriano if she also came from the latter’s tummy). I just wish that Edu Manzano’s character wasn’t a complete caricature that turned into a monster and then had a sudden change of heart in the end.

Also, I found it funny that eleven years later, this mother and daughter tandem would be bitter rivals fighting over Aga Muhlach in A Love Story. Parang episode lang ng Face to Face with Tiyang Amy.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: EVERYTHING ABOUT HER (Joyce Bernal, 2016)

12642576_10153859233563544_6744270398883528400_n
SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Everything About Her:

1. From the opening scene alone, the movie clearly established that this was The Devil Wears Louboutins with THE Vilma Santos playing a bitchy career-driven boss from hell (or as one character called her “Impakta ang potah”). She wore fabulous outfits (her gorgeous red ensemble screamed Ate Vi during her Eskinol days, “You too can be an Eskinol girl like me!”), had her own set of Emily and Nigel, and even a variation of the “That’s all” catchphrase (“Ang bagaaaaal!!”).

2. In this movie though, Miranda Priestly had multiple myeloma and instead of getting an executive assistant, she needed a personal nurse (Angel Locsin). It reminded me so much of the superior M. Mother’s Maiden Name (with the wonderful Zsa Zsa Padilla).

3. The first half of the movie was a delight with director Joyce Bernal deftly handling the comedic scenes and the two leads displaying great comic timing. Ate Vi’s character was named Vivian Rabaya and I actually thought they would start calling her Ate Viv. Angel, on the other hand, was named Jaica Domingo (“She calls me tonta for short”). Whether it was Ate Vi throwing insults left and right or Angel dangling from the side of a cab, there were moments of pure joy that really made me laugh out loud.

My favorite throwaway joke:

Ate Vi: “Kumain ka na?”
Angel: “Opo.”
Ate Vi: “Mukha nga.”

4. When Xian Lim’s character was introduced, I slowly started to lose interest not only because Xian lacked the acting chops (his tears were falling but his eyes remained dead) to go toe-to-toe with these amazing actresses, but also because the movie forced an unnecessary love story (which we all know would have the requisite Star Cinema happy ending).

I remembered how good Luis Manzano was in In My Life. He should have been cast here instead.

5. Where could I buy a similar low-hanging chandelier? Yes, I’m gonna swing from it. Waley.

6. Wala talagang kupas si Ate Vi. When her character learned that she had cancer, she held back her tears pretending to be strong and smiled while saying “Cancer lang ‘to.” In another scene, you could actually feel her longing to embrace her son and the bittersweet feeling when he finally did while she was in severe pain. That bathroom scene was reminiscent of her performance in The Dolzura Cortez Story.

7. Speaking of her filmography, I loved the (unintentional?) homage to Pahiram ng Isang Umaga. The lines she said while wishing for more time were really powerful (“Baka kelangan ko ng cancer, kelangan ko ng deadline. Pero sana wag masyadong mabilis, kelangan ko pa ng konting panahon. Konti lang.”) And that quiet scene where Vangie Labalan placed a blanket on her shoulder really broke my heart.

8. Jaica’s a smart nurse. How could she not know that an original Birkin or Balenciaga should never be utilized for anything vomit-related?

9. Did they use the same vacant lot where Popoy and Basha were supposed to build their dream house? Ooh, this would really drive Popoy to alcoholism.

10. In one scene, Angel made a Darna reference that was so meta it made my head hurt. So let’s see, Ate Vi played Darna and she was previously married to Edu Manzano who played Captain Barbell. They had Luis Manzano who played Flash Bomba and he’s currently together (are they still?) with Angel Locsin, another Darna. Talk about a family of superheroes. #mindblown

Rating: ★★★☆☆