MOVIE REVIEW: ALONE/TOGETHER (Antoinette Jadaone, 2019)

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Maganda ang first half. Daming feels ng idealist vs. realist concept. Sadly, yung second half got stuck sa conventions ng genre.

Pero sobrang galing ng LizQuen dito (especially Liza omg). This is their most mature (and best) film to date.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published February 13, 2019.)

MOVIE REVIEW: JUST THE WAY YOU ARE (Theodore Boborol, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Just The Way You Are:

1. Why does Star Cinema keep using the same font for their opening credits in almost all of their movies?

2. The movie began with Enrique Gil in full policeman uniform invading a teen party and stripping down to his bare bottom (boxers actually, but admit it you instantly decided to watch). Not complaining on that Magic Mike XXL primer at all.

3. So Enrique’s character loves to wear leather jackets in this kind of weather because I guess baskil is cool.

4. The first of the annoying blatant product placements (ABS-CBN Mobile) appeared in the first 15 minutes. The Generics Pharmacy, Alpine Sterilized Milk, and EO Optical followed every twenty minutes or so. These in-your-face commercials need to stop. (I loved the cameo of Ate Vi, though.)

5. I therefore conclude that an uglified Liza Soberano with thick eyebrows and braces still looks much better than 90% of our population during our best days.

6. If the movie had a makeover scene, it would have only lasted five seconds. Liza just needed a good tweezer to look like a goddess. Ang ganda ganda ganda ganda ganda niya. #kainggit

7. Yayo Aguila was really funny as the doting mom that still smelled the armpits of her teenage son. Who else could relate?

On the other hand, Sunshine Cruz was still looking gorgeous as ever. Really classy, too.

8. Enrique was obviously wearing shorts in the shower scene. It was a clunky setup with Liza entering and screaming. The exact same sequence was done much better in Bride for Rent.

9. The Case of the Disappearing Black Eye.

10. What is with this growing trend of “shout your feelings” scenes as catharsis in recent films? Enough please. Why can’t people just break stuff just like I do? Or just tweet them or post as a Facebook status.

11. Even with her twang (that sounded awkward during her Filipino lines), Liza actually proved that she’s a good actress. We can’t expect her to play the same Am-girl over and over, though so she needs to neutralize that accent. I can’t wait to see her in more serious roles.

12. “Sana hindi na lang tayo nagmamahal, no? Siguro hindi na rin tayo nasasaktan.” #hugot

13. Enrique is undeniably gwapo but he seriously needs a haircut. And get rid of the cheap highlights, please!!

14. Please Lord, sana hindi malason si Enrique ng milk tea!

15. Kinikilig ako! Juskopo! I’m too old for this!!

16. LizQuen is a winning combo. They’re both charming and they look really good together. Bagay sobra. I just wish they had better material. Chemistry can only do so much to save a movie.

17. “When you love, you always win. Kahit masaktan ka, may makukuha ka pa rin. Love will always leave you with a stronger heart.” #arayqbeh

18. Same old ending. I wish this love team will be given better projects in the future because it deserves much, much better than this derivative drivel.

19. I really love this no kissing clause. The constant teasing just makes it more kilig. Yun ang wala sa JaDine movies kasi laplapan sila nang laplapan lagi.

20. Why bother with a She’s All That remake when this was originally done in the Dingdong Dantes-Antoinette Taus cult classic, Kiss Mo Ko?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published June 18, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: MY EX AND WHYS (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on My Ex and Whys:

1. At the start of the movie, Cali (Liza Soberano) posted an interesting question on her BakitList blog: “Bakit ba ang tao kahit alam naman na masasaktan eh hindi nagsasawang magmahal?”. It was a universal thought that demanded a response and the movie’s biggest failure was that it never really tried to expound on its answer of “Mas tanga ang hindi magmahal.” Maybe Cali should have added another set of Whys on her list.

2. I would have to admit that I was very excited when this project was announced because I had always been a huge fan of the LizQuen loveteam and I deeply trusted the magic of Cathy Garcia-Molina. I really felt bad that the material didn’t live up to my lofty expectations in the same way that Dolce Amore started to disappoint me post-amnesia.

One of the strengths of this tandem was that they could stick to being pabebe and it wouldn’t come off as annoying. They easily reminded anyone of their youth, a time when it felt great to be wild and innocent and free and stupid and lovesick. But even better, they demonstrated in Everyday I Love You and Dolce Amore that they could deliver more as actors. They just needed a solid story to back them up and this wasn’t it.

3. Here’s my own list of Star Cinema tropes that they hopefully get rid off in future rom-coms (try to list all of the previous movies that had this, it would be fun!):

* One of the leads needed to work hard to support her low-to-middle class family that heavily depended on her

* Rain, lot and lots of rain, in slow motion, involving Enrique Gil (here as Gio)

* Greek chorus of BFFs that serve as one of the leads’ conscience/voice of reason/narrator of feelings

* Family of boys, and with Joey Marquez as the head of the clan and Joross as comic relief

* Contrived reason to shoot out of town/the country (this time in gorgeous Korea)

* Last minute dash to the airport before the penultimate professing of love (and possible kiss, stress on possible)

4. It was hard to empathize with Cali’s bitterness and hurt when we never really understood her love story with Gio. Nothing was shown after spending seven minutes (of heaven) with him. What made her love him aside from his promise of fidelity?

Also, her reason for breaking up with him felt completely trivial. She only heard a possible tryst over the phone and immediately broke up with him without hearing him out? Sure, she was traumatized by her cheating father but was that reason enough to let him go (especially since she knew he was drunk)?

Ang babaw girl! There are other worse reasons to break up with a cheating boyfriend. Minsan makikita mo na lang siya may ibang ka-date sa mall. Or may tatawag sa cellphone nya saying na miss na siya at mahal na mahal sya sobra. Or makikita mo ang messages ng landian sa Facebook inbox at yung last ay magkita sila sa isang club. I am not just my mistake mong mukha mo!! But I digress.

5. I wasn’t keen on the choice of using split screens especially since this style was closely associated with another popular loveteam. I was just happy that God Gave Me You never played in the background.

6. I really liked how the movie was unapologetic on its portrayal of gender differences. One person mentioned that it was innate for men to cheat (it’s just in their nature to be polygamous). Joey’s character was dating two women and the audience found it funny. Ara Mina’s character as the long-suffering mother of Cali on the other hand looked forgiving and bordered on being gaga. I just wished they were able to explore this further through Cali and Gio.

7. My favorite parts were elevated by such great performances. This was obviously Liza’s movie because she was just so good in every scene (lalo na kapag umiiyak wow lang ha), but the best one had her drunkenly putting down her guard and admitting her jealousy and unwavering feelings for Gio.

Enrique had less to do here although he delivered unli-charms whether he was taking a sad face picture (hongkyuuuut!) or hilariously pretending not be seduced by a woman’s huge boobies.

Even Ryan Bang had his intentional and unintentional comic moments. Lakas ng tawa ko sa “Di mo alam dito sya mag-propose sa’yo? Oh ngayon alam mo na”. No wait, I laughed even harder in the “third wheel” joke. He was a standout in this movie.

8. I felt bad when one character verbalized that working as a call center agent was a thankless job. I felt worse (as a previous BPO manager) when Cali terminated a call even with an incredibly irate customer still talking on the other end of the line.

Speaking of jobs, I found it odd that Cali became an internet sensation given that she rarely blogged and most of her conversations with Gio looked like they happened on Twitter. Don’t even get me started on the dubious bag endorsement and book deal. I would believe that once I read The Untold Story of Bilog and Bunak biography.

9. “You give me hope…” played and the camera focused on Liza’s (yup, Hope’s) face. What a nice little touch!

10. For all my complaints, I still couldn’t deny that I felt like a giddy tweener during that faux proposal scene amidst a row of gingko trees. It was such a magical sight straight out of a Koreanovela. I would have also said yes.

Booking that trip to Korea in 3, 2, 1…

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: DUKOT (Paul Soriano, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Dukot:

1. We sadly live in a world of victim-blaming, where a grieving mother gets shamed as a negligent parent, an injured person is reprimanded for not being more careful, and a woman who cries rape gets bashed for being a tease with her plunging neckline and short skirt. It scares me that a lot of people have this knee-jerk reaction, especially since I see myself as one of them.

When the movie opened with Ellen Adarna in a skimpy outfit trying to withdraw from an ATM at such an odd hour, my brain just kept thinking that she would get robbed and she had no one to blame but herself. My worst fear happened and she was even shot and left for dead. I hated myself for having thought that way and it made me want to do another self-check. Unfortunately, that was all the deep thinking that this movie required me to do.

2. Although technically impressive, Dukot was marred by lapses in logic and believability, falling short of being an effective thriller. Sure, one could easily say everything that happened was based on true events, but another could argue that if that were the case, then this should just have been a documentary. No amount of awesome aerial shots or perfectly-framed scenes could compensate for the lack of an engrossing story (a dream sequence to generate tension, really?). I felt very much like one of the guests of Mr. Sandoval (Ricky Davao), watching him discuss a Powerpoint presentation about himself during his birthday party.

3. I think my lack of compassion for his family was because he was a corrupt Customs officer. I still had not forgotten the vultures in my city’s Customs office that charged an exorbitant amount for my non-taxable Amazon book orders. Also, he was the type of stingy father that would rather haggle with his son’s kidnappers rather than pull strings to come up with the ransom money.

When his daughter Cathy (Shaina Magdayao) called him up in the middle of the night crying that Carlo (Enrique Gil) was kidnapped, he didn’t even show any concern or bother asking if she was ok and just calmly said that everything was insured so she shouldn’t be crying. Father of the Year Awardee right there.

4. In a world (and country) where CCTV cameras had become necessities, I couldn’t understand why the kidnappers never bothered to cover up their faces. They also kidnapped Carlo instead of the beautiful Cathy just because the former begged that he take her place instead. In the safe house, they were almost always drunk and careless and even allowed Carlo to pee behind closed doors. They were such bumbling kidnappers that I was wondering why they didn’t just choose a different occupation (I swear they could have been more effective and probably richer selling Royale whitening soap).

5. Did you see that viral video where a policeman was using two miniature (Matchbox?) cars to simulate an accident? I laughed so hard when something similar was shown in this movie. In that scene, Mr. Sandoval received a call from one of the kidnappers which prompted an investigator to turn on her tape recorder. Yes, she recorded the conversation like she was conducting an interview. I really hoped it wasn’t our third world version of tracing a call.

6. Speaking of, I wasn’t sure if I missed something but did they do a phone to phone call using an old Nokia model without a speaker function? How??

7. In a cast of good actors (that also included Bing Pimentel, Christopher de Leon, Ping Medina, and Manang Biring), the real standout was Alex Medina. Seriously, you could never go wrong with someone whose roles ranged from Bonifacio’s brother to a man possessed by a gay ghost.

8. I really loved the juxtapositions used here, from the birthday celebrations to the one where the two ladies were smoking. They were as effective as the ones done by Carlos Siguion-Reyna in Inagaw Mo Ang Lahat Sa Akin.

9. It really felt like the material was modified in favor of the Star Magic talents. Kidnapping the son instead gave Enrique a lot of dramatic highlights (to be fair, he was able to acquit himself well) and at one point, Ricky’s character conveniently suffered a heart attack so that Shaina could have her shining crying moment while lugging around three duffel bags containing millions of pesos (still not sure why Mr. Sandoval agreed to endanger his daughter, though).

10. How would you know the kidnapper that grew a conscience? He was the one with the angel wings tattooed on his back, naturally.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: EVERYDAY I LOVE YOU (Mae Cruz-Alviar, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Everyday I Love You:

1. Let me start by saying that this movie was far from being groundbreaking. It was a simple and derivative love story that didn’t really deviate much from the Star Cinema rom-com formula. It successfully delivered on the promised kiligs, though, and I went out of the theater feeling like I was experiencing puppy love for the very first time again.

2. All the credit should go to the wonderful tandem of Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil. They saved a tired old plot straight out of While You Were Sleeping (loyalty vs love) just by continuously teasing each other and making googly eyes that made the entire theater swoon.

They were more than bagay. In my heart, they were really meant to be.

3. Dear Star Cinema, please let this be the last time that Enrique takes a video of an unsuspecting young woman. We do not support perverts (or uncouth leading men). Being rude to women is definitely not romantic.

4. I wish Bacolod would have had more exposure in the movie. Aside from the antique houses, the only other thing I learned was that they had a lot of sugar canes.

5. I also wish the transitions from scene to scene were much better. In the juxtaposition sequence of Liza crying beside a comatose Gerald Anderson and Enrique crying beside his dying father, people giggled endlessly (I’m guessing it was also because of Enrique’s atrocious haircut).

In another scene, Liza started with the line “Dun nagsimula ang kwento namin…” and as expected, the flashback scenes started. Groan.

6. Gerald was comatose for majority of the movie and he still managed to give a terrible performance. Ugh.

7. Liza was so good in that Silay Scooter Girl airport sequence. Star Cinema has found its new rom-com princess.

8. I really liked how Liza’s Tagalog twang was assumed as an Ilonggo accent. It actually worked and didn’t serve as a distraction.

9. The One More Chance references were blatant but effective still. Gerald’s character Tristan was also very controlling down to the chicken and hot sauce that Liza’s Audrey wanted to make papak.

At one point, Tristan even said, “Mas gusto ko nakapalda ka” all while wearing a tree outfit. Wake up, girl! Who would want to be tied up with this clueless control freak?

10. There was a Goldilocks mamon product placement that had to be mentioned. Too bad they already phased out McDonald’s Shake Shake fries.

11. “Mahirap kalabanin ang first love.” Do you agree?

12. I usually hate watching with noisy fantards. Except when I’m screaming along with them. Sobrang kilig ng LizQuen loveteam eh.

13. Finally, a Star Cinema movie with a title that actually made sense. When it was referenced in one scene, my heart died a little.

14. Doctor to Tristan: “It’s possible na ma-comatose ka ulit.”

Audience: “Ok lang po.”

Poor coma guy.

15. That Goodbye Silay Scooter Girl phone sequence.

Ang galing na umarte nina Liza and Enrique. Now I’m even more of a fan.

16. “Higit pa sa nagpapasaya sa’yo, piliin mo kung ano ang tama. And you can only do that if you’re honest with yourself.”

17. I repeat, “If it’s the right person, there’s no such thing as way too soon.”

18. SOBRANG GANDA NI LIZA SOBERANO!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published October 30, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR (Johannes Roberts, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Other Side of the Door:

1. Mothers always make the toughest decisions in movies. Whenever a mother of two kids gets involved in an accident with them, you can expect a Sophie’s Choice moment where she has to decide and save (and therefore show her bias/favoritism/put more importance to) a specific child. She’s then subjected to endless guilt and shame on top of the overwhelming feeling of loss.

I last saw this happen in the local horror flick Amorosa where Angel Aquino had to decide if she should save Enrique Gil or Martin del Rosario. Tough call, right?

2. In this movie, Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori of The Walking Dead) was placed in the same situation and the consequences of her choice made her desperate to do anything to communicate again with the son that she lost. An Indian woman advised her that she could do this in an abandoned temple between the dead and the living (huh?) as long as she didn’t open the door (insert Ate Gay joke here) and let out the spirits saying hello from the other side (insert Adele joke here). Since this was a horror movie, you knew that door will be opened.

3. Why are most of the (good) scary stories set in Asia? Even Hollywood remakes tried to bring back the stories to their original settings because it just seemed more natural. The Grudge sent Sarah Michelle Gellar back to Japan. Even the recent horror flick The Forest had to use a Suicide Forest in Japan. (Wait, I’m visiting Tokyo soon. Should I be scared?) It must be the exoticism of the region that just made it more mystical. (FYI, this movie was an exception. Completely horrible.)

4. Most of the scenes were too dark that it was hard to see the apparently horrific things happening onscreen. The sound effects cued every scare, but nothing worked.

5. Do you still remember Flower Girl from Sukob? The one who reminded siblings not to get married on the same year? The one who left a trail of leaves whenever she made a surprise appearance? The only one that successfully killed Kris Aquino outside of her massacre movies? She has finally conquered Hollywood. I’m so proud of her!

6. I remember reading this short horror story where a father was trying to pacify his crying son who was saying that a monster was under his bed. When he peeked under, he saw his real son who shushed him and said that there was another boy on his bed. That was a real goosebumps moment. The movie tried to incorporate a similar scene but it was nowhere near as effective.

7. After an hour of terrorizing the family, how did they get rid of the ghost? The mother begged him to go away. Eh puwede naman pala pakiusapan jusko!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆