MOVIE REVIEW: LILA (Gino Santos, 2016)

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Ang pelikula kung saan tinira si Enchong Dee sa likuran ng isang mahaba at matigas na bagay.

Further proof that the horror genre is every Pinoy filmmaker’s waterloo (unless you’re Chito Roño).

Janine Gutierrez looked really lovely, though.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published April 22, 2016.)

FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW: PISTA NG PELIKULANG PILIPINO 2019 SCORECARD

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Best Feature Length Film

1. CIRCA (Adolf Alix, Jr.) – ★★★★☆
2. OPEN (Andoy Ranay) – ★★★★☆
3. LSS (Jade Castro) – ★★★★☆

4. LOLA IGNA (Eduardo Roy, Jr.) – ★★★☆☆

5. THE PANTI SISTERS (Jun Lana) – ★★☆☆☆
6. CUDDLE WEATHER (Rod Marmol) – ★★☆☆☆
7. WATCH ME KILL (Tyrone Acierto) – ★★☆☆☆
8. G! (Dondon Santos) – ★★☆☆☆
9. I’m Ellenya L. (Boy 2 Quizon) – ★☆☆☆☆

Not seen:
Pagbalik
Verdict

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

1. CHRISTIAN BABLES (The Panti Sisters)
2. JC SANTOS (Open)
3. PAOLO BALLESTEROS (The Panti Sisters)
4. KHALIL RAMOS (LSS)
5. MARTIN DEL ROSARIO (The Panti Sisters)
6. RK BAGATSING (Cuddle Weather)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

1. ANGIE FERRO (Lola Igna)
2. SUE RAMIREZ (Cuddle Weather)
3. ANITA LINDA (Circa)
4. ARCI MUÑOZ (Open)
5. JEAN GARCIA (Watch Me Kill)
6. GABBI GARCIA (LSS)
7. MARIS RACAL (I’m Ellenya L.)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

1. JOHN ARCILLA (The Panti Sisters)
2. ELIJAH CANLAS (LSS)
3. ENCHONG DEE (Circa)
4. VANCE LARENA (Open)
5. RICKY DAVAO (Circa)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

1. TUESDAY VARGAS (LSS)
2. JACLYN JOSE (Circa)
3. MA. ISABEL LOPEZ (Lola Igna)
4. MERYLL SORIANO (Lola Igna)
5. INA RAYMUNDO (Open)
6. IANA BERNARDEZ (LSS)
7. GINA ALAJAR (Circa)
8. ELIZABETH OROPESA (Circa)
9. VIA ANTONIO (The Panti Sisters)
10. ROXANNE BARCELO (The Panti Sisters)

Until next year!!

MOVIE REVIEW: NAY (Kip Oebanda, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

This movie could have learned a thing or two from Robert Eggers’ The Witch, a supernatural horror film that subtly doubled as a social commentary. This one just wasn’t a fun experience because I expected a delicious aswang flick, but ended up getting repeatedly clobbered on the head by its heavy socio-political themes.

If the blatant metaphors were not enough, it had characters actually spouting lines referencing social inequality and extra-judicial killings (in one scene, Enchong Dee looking like he got possessed by the spirit of Magnolia dela Cruz kept wailing about the innocent poor getting killed, “Bakit silahhhh? May mga pamilyahh silahhhh!!”).

I was really happy with the casting of Sylvia Sanchez (fresh from the role of a doting Alzheimer’s-stricken mother in The Greatest Love) that brought her back to her villain roots. Her menacing turn as the human kilawin-loving helper brought back my childhood fear of her evil bruha in Takbo…Talon…Tili!!

I wish there were more How To Train Your Aswang moments (I really liked the choice of the red hues when they were listening in on the busy metro; oh, and the slug transfer, really cool!) and less of the unintentional humor (one character’s reaction on learning that he was turned into an aswang: “Watdafak!”). Indeed.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: MANO PO 7: CHINOY (Ian Loreños, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Mano Po 7: Chinoy:

1. ‪I learned two Chinese words in college that would appropriately describe my viewing experience of this movie. Yes, both are nasty curse words.

I suddenly missed the glory days of Regal Films when it rightfully earned that crown in its bright red “R” logo (shown in their ’90s OBB that resembled a horror movie) and it wasn’t reliant on a tired franchise that just seemed to get worse with every new sequel. Seriously, the Mano Po series would be no different from an inaamag na tikoy.‬

2. I had high hopes for this one since Ian Loreños directed one of my favorite films of 2012, the father-son drama slash human trafficking cautionary tale Alagwa. I remember sobbing hysterically by the end of that movie and taking a mental note that I would never leave any child unattended ever. It was that powerful. I wondered what happened with this one. The only reason I could think of was that it was rushed to ensure a slot in the MMFF. Such a waste of talent.

3. For a Chinoy movie, there was nothing distinctly Chinoy about the problems of this family. The stories here could very well have been another family drama with all-Pinoy characters directed by Laurice Guillen.

It was a disaster from the moment Enchong Dee (as the black sheep) made a grand entrance in his parents’ 25th anniversary party. That scene was no different from the first Mano Po with Ara Mina disrupting the grand family party (headed by sister Maricel Soriano) by showing up in a backless dress with the cut dropping all the way to her butt crack (that’s how you do it, Enchong).

4. Good news: At least we didn’t get actors donning exaggerated chinky eyes and speaking in weird Chinoy accents that bordered on being racist.

Bad news: Except for the veteran greats like Jean Garcia (looking very much like the lovely Michelle Yeoh) and Eric Quizon (such an underrated actor), the rest of the Chinoy cast seemed to have been chosen because they looked the part even if they couldn’t act the part.

The worst offender was Sir Chief Richard Yap who only displayed two types of emotions in the entire movie: furious with matching nanlilisik na mata and shocked with matching nanlilisik na mata. He displayed more range playing the chef in that Chowking commercial.

5. Rose Po Que? Really? Didn’t these Chinese name jokes peak during the Bubble Gang era?

6. Sir Chief’s character was supposed to be cold and uptight because he had a damaged childhood. His mother was so strict that she wouldn’t let him play in the street with the other kids. In effect, he wouldn’t let his wife join him in bed without cleaning up first after a long day at work. But wait, wasn’t that the first rule of hygiene regardless?

7. Several scenes were spent on the rehab love story between Enchong and Jessy Mendiola (who probably watched Girl, Interrupted several times before taking on the role) but it really had no weight on the story, except to assert his masculinity and dismiss all the gay rumors.

8. I would probably go crazy the next time I see a board meeting where somebody would be presenting a pitch like “The higher the risk, the higher the reward” and everyone would be nodding their heads and smiling like it was Confucius talking and they were just blessed with his wisdom.

9. You knew immediately that Jake Cuenca’s character would be a villain because he looked so sleazy in a man bun. Besides, why would a customer like him confide to a Miladay jeweller like Jean after his fiancee broke up with him? Sabagay, kapag malungkot din ako ang unang tinatawagan ko ay ang alahera ng nanay ko.

10. I wouldn’t have been too harsh on this movie if there weren’t so many groan-worthy scenes (Enchong running after his father’s car while saying “Papa!”, Jake’s breakdown scene in the car, Enchong wailing in a van with an overdosed Jessy, “Gumising ka! Lumaban ka naman oh! Waaaah!”, Janella Salvador hugging Jean from behind and saying “Mama, don’t go!”, Marlo Mortel punching a maniac professor while screaming “We will report you and sue you for harassment!!”, and Sir Chief asking his estranged wife to dance as a gift to his daughter). Very much like airplanes, cinema seats should be equipped with barf bags, no?

11. In one scene, Sir Chief was jogging around Nuvali. He suddenly stopped and bent over and I really thought for a moment that it would turn out to be an ad for Flanax (he ended up having a Ventosa).

12. Bakit wala yun bunso sa Taiwan family trip? Kinulang sa budget?

13. Two hours and the movie still didn’t want to end. Siao siao!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: BARCELONA: A LOVE UNTOLD (Olivia Lamasan, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Barcelona: A Love Untold:

1. In the movie Milan, the central mystery revolved around the disappearance of Lino’s (Piolo Pascual) wife, Mary Grace (Iza Calzado), and his quest to find answers. It was an interesting premise that kept people guessing until the big reveal.

In the movie Barcelona, the central mystery fell on the character of Celine, the ex-girlfriend of Ely (Daniel Padilla). It was not so much about what happened to her, but who was supposedly playing the role. Her identity was kept a secret through partially concealed phone and laptop wallpapers and first person point of view shots. The big reveal turned out to be an even bigger disappointment because it was played by (surprise, surprise!) Kathryn Bernardo with a mole on the chin and a prosthetic nose straight out of Blusang Itim.

It was as lame as the teaser on Four Sisters and a Wedding that hid the identity of Enchong Dee’s chararat bride, who turned out to be Angeline Quinto. Nobody really cared.

2. Seriously, if they wanted to make a big deal about the Celine character, why didn’t they cast Nadine Lustre instead? It definitely would have been so controversial and ballsy that it could have sent several KathNiels straight to the emergency room.

3. Finding new love in a foreign land might sound romantic but this was one love story that really should have remained untold. Star Cinema could have done a Spain travelogue instead and focused on this architecture capital of the world (I just added Sagrada Familia on my Places to Visit list).

Besides, there were so many subplots that veered away from the main story that included: Ely’s conflict with his father and the fate of their business, Mia’s conflict with her father, Ely’s abandonment issue with his mother, Mia’s unemployment for being duped into networking, etc. Even minor characters played by Aiko Melendez and son Joshua Garcia needed their own dramatic highlights. The running time of two hours felt like an eternity.

4. Speaking of Joshua, there was a running gag about his character needing to poop every single time. Was this ever explained? Did they edit out that he had colon cancer or something? What’s another hour of extraneous plot?

5. Ironically, the movie told the same plight of OFWs that was better tackled in the first few weeks of On The Wings of Love (also, the animation bit was signature Antoinette Jadaone). Aiko took on the role of Tita Jack, Joshua was Jigs without the love triangle element, and most of the trials that Mia experienced on the job happened to Leah.

Except for the bleeding foot. Who would ever wear heels while working in a palengke? Also, how could you sympathize with Mia when she was working as a nanny sporting palazzo pants, heels, and clutching a designer bag? She also neglected a child. Why would I feel bad that she got fired? Kairita.

6. Any romantic movie addict knows that the Meet Cute part is crucial in establishing the connection between the potential lovers. In this movie, Ely and Mia met each other while on a train. An old man dropped his supot of abubots and Ely stopped and helped him pick up his stuff. Mia, who probably thought of herself as a subway goddess, simply stepped over the said goods and headed straight to the doors. I had the sudden urge to pull her stringy hair back ala Clara del Valle and ask her to help clean up the mess.

There was also one scene where Ely carried a drunk Mia on his shoulder like a wild boar back to his apartment. Was that supposed to be funny and romantic?

7. Much had been said about the makeup in this movie that I felt the need to discuss it in detail. I just couldn’t get over how horrible they looked. Daniel was like a walking espasol while Kathryn had the bronzed Spanish bread look. As one KathNiel pointed out, I am not a makeup expert and I do not know the perfect shades to complete a fresh summer look. My amateur critique on the makeup here is more on the lines of “Bes, Foundation Day ba today?”. Too distracting, too scary.

(Also, one scene involved mimes with white paint on their faces. I really thought it was them. That bad.)

8. Ano ang laman ng maleta ni Mia? Packets of Nescafe, of course. Laman ng cupboard ni Ely? Cans of San Marino Chili Corned Tuna. Pinoy essentials, naturally.

9. The leads’ performances were fine, with Daniel faring much better than Kathryn. She still had that distracting nasal voice and could not get rid of her pabebe acting tics. When she started crying in the latter part of this movie, I seriously expected subtitles so that the audience would understand what she was saying. Whatever happened to that brilliant actress that was a revelation in Magkaribal? In one scene, she was asked to perform a Spanish dance (freestyle flamenco?) and it severely lacked the needed sexuality. So awkward to watch!

Daniel, on the other hand, looked really good onscreen and reminded me a lot of a charismatic Robin Padilla in his prime. I hope that his potentials won’t be limited by his love team. Sayang naman if the only maturity he would be able to show would be doing a supposed nude scene while Kathryn watched from her bed.

If there was one performer that really stood out, though, it was Ma. Isabel Lopez who played Ely’s mother. As usual, eksenadora na naman. She stole every scene (one of them in a gorgeous red gown) like she was hogging the limelight in Cannes all over again. Brava!

10. Even with all the pop culture references (diary in Mara Clara, one character saying “Shut up na lang ako”, etc.), the best one leaned on being political since the movie inadvertently ended up as a public service ad against extrajudicial killings. In a nutshell, the Celine character was accidentally shot by riding-in-tandem goons who were actually targeting (I’m guessing) a drug pusher. I’m not kidding.

11. Burning questions:

• Why did the interior shots look like Tondo?

• Was it just me or did one of the tour guides actually look like Maine Mendoza?

• Will the trend of shouting from a high place (this time on a ferris wheel) as a form of catharsis continue in future movies?

• What was up with all those close-ups of their lips while drinking mineral water?

• Will I ever get to hear Gary V. sing a ballad without ever laughing after those hilarious “If (show/movie) was made in the Philippines…” videos?

• Was Cathy Garcia-Molina actually a good sport for showing up as herself while barking orders to poor extras?

• Do these lines sound familiar?

“Ingat ka sa lungkot-lungkot na yan. Mahirap magmahal ng isang taong hindi pa tapos magmahal ng iba.”

“Stop acting like you own my pain!”

“Tama ka! Hindi ka si Celine. You will NEVER be Celine!”

“‘Wag mo ko mahalin dahil mahal kita. Mahalin mo ko dahil mahal mo ko. Because that is what I deserve.”

“Mahal kita dahil mahal kita. Yun na yun.”

12. If you’re planning to watch this movie, make sure you’re armed with a first aid kit. During the much-hyped kissing scene, one KathNiel in yesterday’s screening let out an ear-piercing scream, jumped out of her seat, and started frothing in the mouth.

The other one beside me was sobbing like her favorite pet just died. I cried along with her because I really wanted a refund.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: I LOVE YOU TO DEATH (Miko Livelo, 2016)

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My notes on I Love You To Death:

1. As soon as Janice de Belen showed up on screen as Kiray Celis’ mother, all I could think of was the popular 80’s catchphrase (“Oh my god! Ang anak ni Janice!!”) that was used in the trailer of Regal Films’ cult classic Tiyanak and spawned the flop sequel Anak ni Janice.

Whether this was intentional or not, the movie’s best moments involved the running joke of her character’s brutal honesty towards her daughter’s physical appearance. She was the type of mom that would scream “Wag mo nga akong ginugulat anak!” upon seeing Kiray’s I-woke-up-like-this face or would recommend to fix her daughter’s bridal look by covering her face with a veil.

2. This brand of comedy harkens back to the early 90’s Rene Requiestas Pido Dida/Cheeta-eh era that I wasn’t surprised when his lookalike actually showed up. It made me miss this type of humor, especially in this day and age of political correctness. One simple punchline in his movies (say Michael and Madonna) would be Rene smiling and showing his missing teeth and it would be okay for people to laugh (“Ay bungi! Hahaha!”). If you’d do that now, a group of keyboard warriors would demand respect for dentally-challenged people while a group of activists burned effigies of the President protesting the lack of funds for dentures and the proliferation of lowbrow comedy in local cinema. How times have changed.

3. The biggest problem of this movie was that there really wasn’t a lot going for it aside from making fun of Kiray’s looks. It shouldn’t be a surprise given that the movie’s supposed highlight extensively used in promotions was the kissing scene between her and Enchong Dee (wait, was it supposed to be icky because of her looks or because of his…never mind).

This reminded so much of Joe Dante’s Burying the Ex, another awful dark comedy about a spurned lover that rose from the dead to seek revenge. Even with torn limbs and blood spurting onscreen, it didn’t have much of a story either.

4. I didn’t bother taking note of the young supporting cast’s names because I hadn’t seen this much bad acting since the last season of Pinoy Big Brother: Teen Edition. I had so much fun seeing them get killed one by one because it would just mean one less irritating person to watch. Besides, I wasn’t even sure why Kiray was friends with them when they would openly mock her appearance and blatantly wish for her character’s harm (was it because she only owned one orange Prada bag that she used every single time, regardless if it clashed with her outfit?).

5. Burning questions:

• What bowling alley would allow kids to wear Jimmy Choo heels?

• What was up with Enchong’s hair? His short bangs reminded me of that scene in Dumb and Dumber when Jim Carrey placed a bowl over his head before getting a haircut.

• Why did these kids never grieve for their dead friends? After one of them got murdered in school, the next scene showed the gang in a salon. I guess the best way to really move on would be to get a Brazilian blowout and a mani-pedi. Yet in another scene, they were shown mourning…in a club.

6. Speaking of club, this was a Regal movie so I wasn’t surprised that there was an extended dance-off sequence. I should just be thankful that it wasn’t at a beach.

7. I never really understood the “mukha kang pantasa” joke, especially when the woman looked more like an eraser. And that #deathbypencil scene reeked too much of Zoolander 2.

8. Two obvious signs that their wedding was doomed: 1) she had her engagement ring on her middle finger, 2) her wedding gown had a sheer skirt that showed her boy shorts underneath.

9. In one scene, Kiray was kidnapped by her friends and had a sack thrown over her head. After it was removed, there were rice grains stuck on her face that made her complain, “Di nyo man lang tinanggal ang bigas sa sako!”. It was one of the few effortlessly funny gags that worked in this movie. I wish there were so much more because after this and Love is Blind, Kiray definitely deserved much better.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆