ADAN (Roman Perez, Jr.)

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Ganitong-ganito ang mga softcore Viva movies nung early 2000’s starring Maui Taylor (who interestingly played a nanay role here) and Rica Peralejo na directed by Yam Laranas or Erik Matti. Yung kunwari may story pero obvious naman na excuse lang para mag-kamison ang mga bidang starlets at matupad ang sexual fantasies ng mga kalalakihan.

Yung matutuwa ka na 18 years old ka na kasi mapapanood mo siya sa SM Cinemas nung hindi pa sila nagpapanggap na family- and values-oriented. (Btw, I saw this in Southmall because it was shown under the guise of an R-16 film. Oh, the irony!!)

Medyo awkward panoorin ang sex and nudity scenes kasi hawig ni Rhen Escaño si Yasmien Kurdi tapos si Cindy Miranda naman parang sultrier Kathryn Bernardo.

Bilang certified chimbies, syempre ang paborito nila kainin ay sinabawang tahong. For future local lesbo films, I suggest gawing nilagang mani, mainit na monay, adobong pechay, or malagkit na kalamay para maiba naman.

For the problematic straight male crowd na gusto sumakit ang puson, go nuod lang.

(And Lolita Carbon, why?!?)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

ON THE JOB (Erik Matti, 2013)

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A near flawless movie marred only by the weak performance of Gerald Anderson. He was a pussy in a group of roaring lions.

This was a smart and stylish thriller (it reminded me so much of The Departed) that left me depressed with the current state of local politics.

Aside from the skillful direction of Erik Matti, its cinematography and score made the film a cut above the usual Pinoy film noir.

Joel Torre gave a magnificent, towering performance. I admired all the restraint in his acting. Joey Marquez and Leo Martinez were also great.

Really sad to see Gerald in the central role, though. His stilted and phony delivery almost ruined the movie for me. Coco Martin wasn’t available?

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published September 8, 2013.)

BUYBUST (Erik Matti, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

So in the end, the movie basically mocked the “Nanlaban” defense and yet served it as a source of entertainment where the PDEA had every reason to kill the poor because majority of them were addicts and/or drug protectors? I didn’t get this contradiction.

I love my BFF Anne, but she was terribly miscast in this role. In one scene, she shrieked “Gooooo!” like she was storming a meet and greet with Gong Yoo. She just lacked the grit (angas?) needed by her character and it was even more blatant whenever a cornrowed Mara Lopez (in the Michelle Rodriguez role) was onscreen. Siya ang totoong astig.

Commendable production values (the one take fight scene and the final rooftop shot were good), but I just couldn’t get over the neon-lit slums. Magkano kaya Meralco bill nila?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 3, 2018.)

KUWARESMA (Erik Matti, 2019) – ★☆☆☆☆

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Aka Ang Pamilyang Hindi Natatakot.

This was the kind of messy horror flick where characters get terrorized in an Amityville-type house by all sorts of ghosts (including a demon with a papier-maché head) that were completely forgotten five seconds later.

Amidst all the laughable twist after twist and over-the-top performances, my favorite (campy) moments were with Guila Alvarez channeling an early Chanda Romero as Lin Shaye in Insidious.

Men are the real demons? How groundbreaking!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

LIWANAG SA DILIM (Richard Somes, 2015)

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My notes on Liwanag sa Dilim:

1. A lot of Pinoy movie titles are usually famous pop songs that sometimes I wonder if people actually create a concept or screenplay out of them. This movie seems to be a prime example. I can only imagine the writer listening to the radio when Rivermaya’s hit song came on and a lightbulb went off for him to write a story about an aswang terrorizing a small village. I can’t wait for the serendipitous rom-com set in UP based on Sarah Geronimo’s Ikot-Ikot.

2. Jake Vargas played the son of Sunshine Cruz but he kept calling her “Ma’m”. I wasn’t paying too much attention so he might actually have been playing a houseboy.

3. Although this was a fantasy movie, did the characters really have to be complete caricatures? And why was everyone shouting their lines like there was no tomorrow? Terrible acting across the board.

4. Bea Binene had the unfortunate name of Bea Binene but she did look good onscreen. When she opened her mouth though, she gave a whole new meaning to “boses pekpek”.

5. One scene required Vargas to strip down to his boxers before swimming in a batis (actually a waterfall). It made me put down my tub of popcorn and re-examine all my baby fats.

6. Rico Blanco played a local cop and I could only assume that he was given the role for easier licensing agreements.

7. This was the kind of movie where a character would hide behind a rock to avoid the aswang but still loudly say “Please, please sana di niya ako makita!” just in case the audience was so stupid not to notice that he was fearing for his life.

8. Several scenes reminded me so much of Erik Matti’s much superior Aswang Chronicles. And those didn’t have a lot of laughable MMA-style action sequences involving an aswang in a chokehold. Seriously.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published February 15, 2015.)

TOP 10 MMFF MOVIES (2000-2016)

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The Best of Pinoy Cinema 2016

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TOP 10 BEST FEATURE LENGTH FILMS

#10

ANG BABAE SA SEPTIC TANK 2:#FOREVERISNOTENOUGH

Written by: Chris Martinez
Directed by: Marlon Rivera

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#9

SEKLUSYON

Written by: Anton Santamaria
Directed by: Erik Matti

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#8

PAMILYA ORDINARYO

Written by: Eduardo Roy, Jr.
Directed by: Eduardo Roy, Jr.

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#7

FOREVER BRIDGELESS

Written by: Racquel Zaballero-Sanchez and Glenn Ternal
Directed by: Racquel Zaballero-Sanchez and Glenn Ternal

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#6

STAR NA SI VAN DAMME STALLONE

Written by: Ronald Allan Habon
Directed by: Randolph Longjas

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#5

SAKALING HINDI MAKARATING

Written by: Ice Idanan and Petersen Vargas
Directed by: Ice Idanan

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#4

DIE BEAUTIFUL

Written by: Rody Vera
Directed by: Jun Lana

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#3

MA’ ROSA

Written by: Troy Espiritu
Directed by: Brillante Mendoza

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#2

SUNDAY BEAUTY QUEEN

Written by: Baby Ruth Villarama
Directed by: Baby Ruth Villarama

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#1

TUOS

Written by: Denise O’Hara
Directed by: Derick Cabrido

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2016 Scorecard:

★★★★★
DIE BEAUTIFUL (Jun Lana)
FOREVER BRIDGELESS (Racquel Zaballero-Sanchez, Glenn Ternal)
FOREVER NATIN (Cyrus Valdez)
MA’ ROSA (Brillante Mendoza)
OKTOPUS (JP Habac)
ANG PAINTING NI TATAY (Sigrid Andrea Bernardo)
SAANMAN NGUNIT DITO (Cheska Salangsang)
SAKALING HINDI MAKARATING (Ice Idanan)
STAR NA SI VAN DAMME STALLONE (Randolph Longjas)
STOP. STEADY. SAYAW. (Dan Villegas)
SUNDAY BEAUTY QUEEN (Baby Ruth Villarama)
TUOS (Derick Cabrido)
XXX (Allison Barretto)

★★★★☆
ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE (Dan Villegas)
CAMP SAWI (Irene Villamor)
CHICBOY (Jasper Ramon Tulabot)
DIGPAN NING ALTI (Bor Ocampo)
FISH OUT OF WATER (Mon Garilao)
ANG BABAE SA SEPTIC TANK 2: #FOREVERISNOTENOUGH (Marlon Rivera)
KATOK (John Rhys Guarina)
KUNG ANG ULAN AY GAWA SA TSOKOLATE (Galileo Sioco Te and Prime Reyes)
LUMAYO KA NGA SA AKIN (ASAWA NI MARIE) (Chris Martinez)
MERCURY IS MINE (Jason Paul Laxamana)
MRS. (Adolf Alix, Jr.)
AN ORCHESTRA IN SEARCH OF A HOME (Ida Anita del Mundo)
PAMILYA ORDINARYO (Eduardo Roy, Jr.)
PEKTUS (Isabel Quesada)
SEKLUSYON (Erik Matti)

★★★☆☆
THE ACHY BREAKY HEARTS (Antoinette Jadaone)
AREA (Louie Ignacio)
ANG BABAENG HUMAYO (Lav Diaz)
BAKA BUKAS (Samantha Lee)
BAKIT LAHAT NG GWAPO MAY BOYFRIEND? (Jun Lana)
BESHIE (Joyce Bernal)
DUKOT (Paul Soriano)
DYAMPER (Mes de Guzman)
EVERYTHING ABOUT HER (Joyce Bernal)
EXPRESSWAY (Ato Bautista)
GET CERTIFIED (Isaias Zantua)
HELE SA HIWAGANG HAPIS (Lav Diaz)
IMAGINE YOU & ME (Michael Tuviera)
JUST THE 3 OF US (Cathy Garcia-Molina)
LUNA (Rae Red)
MANILA SCREAM (Roque Lee, Blair Camilo)
MGA BITOON SA SIUDAD (Jarell Serencio)
NAKAUWI NA (John Relano, Patrick Baleros, Luis Hidalgo)
NED’S PROJECT (Lemuel Lorca)
AN OPEN DOOR (Paul Soriano)
ORO (Alvin Yapan)
SAVING SALLY (Avid Liongoren)
SITSIRITSIT (Brian Spencer Reyes)
SINA DINO AT ANG KANILANG SIKRETO (Miller Ursolino)
ANG TABA KO KASI (Jason Paul Laxamana)

★★☆☆☆
1ST SEM (Allan Ibanez, Dexter Hemedez)
ANG BAGONG PAMILYA NI PONCHING (Inna Salazar Acuña, Dos Ocampo)
BARCELONA: A LOVE UNTOLD (Olivia Lamasan)
BUGTAW (Noah del Rosario)
BUHAY HABANGBUHAY (Paolo Herras)
BUTAS (Richard Cawed)
DAGSIN (Atom Magadia)
ECHORSIS (Lemuel Lorca)
ANG HAPIS AT HIMAGSIK NI HERMANO PULI (Gil Portes)
ANG HAPON NI NANDING (Milo Tolentino)
HIBLANG ABO (Ralston Jover)
HOW TO BE YOURS (Dan Villegas)
HOW TO FIND LOVE (Quark Henares)
I AMERICA (Ivan Andrew Payawal)
I LOVE YOU TO DEATH (Miko Livelo)
KABISERA (Arturo San Agustin, Real Florido)
KUSINA (Cenon Palomares, David Corpuz)
LAKBAY2LOVE (Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil)
LILA (Gino Santos)
LOVE IS BLIND (Jason Paul Laxamana)
LOVE ME TOMORROW (Gino Santos)
LUMAYO KA NGA SA AKIN (BALA SA BALA, KAMAO SA KAMAO, SATSAT SA SATSAT) (Mark Meily)
LUMAYO KA NGA SA AKIN (SHAKE, SHAKER, SHAKEST) (Andoy Ranay)
ANG MAANGAS, ANG MARIKIT, AT ANG MAKATA (Ibarra Guballa)
MANSYONG PAPEL (Ogos Aznar)
MITATANG (Alvin Jezer Gagui)
MY CANDIDATE (Quark Henares)
NOT APPLICABLE (Carl Chavez)
PUNLA (Kenneth Mandrilla)
THE SUPER PARENTAL GUARDIANS (Joyce Bernal)
THE THIRD PARTY (Jason Paul Laxamana)
THIS TIME (Nuel Naval)
TISAY (Alfonso Torre III)
ANG TULAY NG SAN SEBASTIAN (Alvin Yapan)
THE UNMARRIED WIFE (Maryo J. Delos Reyes)
VINCE & KATH & JAMES (Theodore Boborol)
WHISTLEBLOWER (Adolf Alix, Jr.)
WORKING BEKS (Chris Martinez)

★☆☆☆☆
AKI (Milo Tolentino)
BIRDS (Christian Paolo Lat)
DIYOS-DIYOSAN (Cesar Buendia)
ELEMENTO (Mark Meily)
ENTENG KABISOTE 10 AND THE ABANGERS (Tony Reyes, Marlon Rivera)
THE ESCORT (Enzo Williams)
ANG HAPIS AT HIMAGSIK NI HERMANO PULI (Gil Portes)
LANDO AT BUGOY (Vic Acedillo, Jr.)
MANO PO 7: CHINOY (Ian Loreños)
MY REBOUND GIRL (Emmanuel dela Cruz)
PASSAGE OF LIFE (Renz Vincemark Cruz, Hannah Daryl Gayapa)
STRAIGHT TO THE HEART (Frank David Fabros)
THAT THING CALLED TANGA NA (Joel Lamangan)
TPO (TEMPORARY PROTECTION ORDER) (Joselito Altarejos)
TUPANG LIGAW (Rod Santiago)

Metro Manila Film Festival 2016 Scorecard

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After travelling to three cities and four cinemas in two days, I have officially completed the MMFF2016 marathon.

I’m happy to report that the festival achieved its goal and stayed true to its promise of change, of giving the Pinoy audience something new during the holiday season.

Even with a supposed indie selection, I still had a great time in cinemas. Some films made me laugh out loud, some made me cry like a baby, one scared me to my core, the rest I enjoyed watching with young ones (yes, even kids liked these indies!), but most importantly, they required me to think.

Napakasarap makatikim ng ibang klaseng putahe ngayong Kapaskuhan. Hinihintay na lang nila ang ating suporta.

With that said, here’s my festival scorecard:

Best Picture

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1. SUNDAY BEAUTY QUEEN (Baby Ruth Villarama, 2016) – ★★★★★

Napakagandang pelikula! Matututo kang magpasalamat sa bawat biyayang natanggap, pati na rin sa mga sakripisyong hindi mo ginagawa.

At bes, huwag mong sabihin na ayaw mong manood ng malungkot ngayong Pasko dahil sigurado akong pinanood at iniyakan mo lahat ng Christmas ads ng Uber, Selecta, at Coke. Magdala ng isang box ng tissues.

Dahil ang Pasko ay para sa mga bata, isama ang buong pamilya at manood na kayo. Now na. Tapos group hug kayo after. Merry Christmas!! 😊

 

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2. DIE BEAUTIFUL (Jun Lana, 2016) – ★★★★★

Nakakatuwang makatikim ng isang matalinong comedy sa MMFF. Yung nakakatawa ang mga linya at patok sa masa kahit wala ni isang karakter na nahuhulog galing sa bubungan.

Mas nakakatuwa na ang ganitong klaseng produkto ay tinatangkilik ngayon ng mga manonood (puno ang sinehan nung screening namin sa GB3). Pwede naman pala. Kaya naman pala.

Ang talento ni Paolo Ballesteros sa pelikulang ito ay directly proportional sa kanyang kagandahan bilang Trisha Echevarria. Ang husay! Hindi rin nagpakabog si Christian Bables na napakagaling bilang si BFF Barbs. #FriendshipGoals talaga sila. Sana masungkit nila ang Lead at Supporting Actor trophies.

Nuod na mga bes!! 😊

 

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3. SEKLUSYON (Erik Matti, 2016) – ★★★★☆

Sobrang nanghihinayang ako sa pelikulang ito dahil mas maganda pa sana siya kung marunong lamang umarte ang apat na deacons lalo na si Ronnie Alonte.

Ang husay ng technical aspects mula sa production hanggang sound design. Mahirap makalimutan ang lahat ng religious imagery na ginamit dito. Mahusay din ang direksyon para sa isang kakaibang Pinoy horror movie.

Ito talaga ang perfect anti-Christmas movie ngayong taon. Hahamunin kang mag-isip tungkol sa katatagan ng iyong pananampalataya.

 

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4. ANG BABAE SA SEPTIC TANK 2: #FOREVERISNOTENOUGH (Marlon Rivera, 2016) – ★★★★☆

Para sa katulad kong napanood na ata lahat ng Pinoy rom-com at kabisado na ang Star Cinema formula, natawa ako sobra sa pagka-brutal ng pelikulang ito. Bugbog na bugbog ang mainstream filmmaking at escapism in cinema. Walang sinanto katulad ng ginawa nila sa indie filmmaking at poverty porn doon sa unang pelikula.

Awakening talaga ito ni Eugene Domingo. Amoy na amoy ko na naman ang deserving na panalo as Best Actress. Sa three levels of hugot pa lang niya, sulit na ang bayad.

Magaling din si Jericho Rosales bilang Jericho Rosales. May self-awareness ang pagka-plakado bilang rom-com leading man. Naalala ko tuloy si Jaclyn Jose dun sa film within a film ng Tuhog.

Medyo off lang yung abrupt shift in tone dahil sa love story ni Kean Cipriano (na isiningit to ground the film). Pero totoong hinika ako kakatawa hanggang sa pinakahuling sequence. Waging-wagi!!

 

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5. SAVING SALLY (Avid Liongoren, 2016) – ★★★☆☆

Gusto kong tumira sa makulay na mundo ni Marty kahit puno sya ng mga monsters dahil gusto ko makita ang Warner Barberos at Sandara Park. Naalala ko tuloy ang fantasy element ng Scott Pilgrim Vs The World dito.

Nakakakilig at bagay ang tambalang Enzo Marcos at Rhian Ramos. Sana lamang hindi sila Ingles magsalita kasi medyo off para sa akin. Ang hirap lubos na ma-feel ng story dahil sa coniotic speak (ironic ba?). Para lang akong napadaan ulit sa THE Ateneo conyo bench sa labas ng caf. Higad na lang ang kulang para makumpleto ang experience.

“You wanted mayhem, war, and chaos, but isn’t that what love is all about?” Tumpak!!

 

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6. ORO (Alvin Yapan, 2016) – ★★★☆☆

Nag-flashback sa akin ang mga naunang seasons ng American Horror Story sa mga tilted frames na parang see-saw sa pagpapalit-palit. Parang weighing scale na mahirap hanapan ng balanse.

Maganda ang mensahe ng pelikula bilang environmental drama. Malaman ang sinasabi at mabigat sa mga metaphors at symbolisms. May bonus pa na supernatural element (na hindi ko nagustuhan sa Ang Tulay ng San Sebastian pero pasok sa banga sa An Kubo Sa Kawayanan).

Palaban si Irma Adlawan (lagi naman eh). Tindig at upo pa lang naniniwala na akong siya talaga si Kapitana. Sana lang hindi reactionary ang halos lahat ng kanyang eksena kasi siya ang totoong ginto ng pelikula.

 

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7. VINCE & KATH & JAMES (Theodore Boborol, 2016) – ★★☆☆☆

Walang bago maliban sa mga artista. Pinagtagpi-tagping cliches na napanood na natin sa mga dating rom-coms. Hindi rin naman masyadong na-utilize ang textserye origins niya. Halos nakumpleto niya ang checklist ng Star Cinema formula na kinukutya sa Septic Tank 2. Sunset lang ang kulang.

May natural charm itong si Joshua Garcia. Magaling siya dun sa confrontation scene nila ni Ina Raymundo, parang early John Lloyd. Akala ko maiirita ako kay Julia Barretto dito kaya nagulat ako na maayos naman siya, parang early Ate Clau.

Kinilig ang mga teenagers na kasabay kong nanuod. Masyado na ata akong matanda para sa ganitong genre.

 

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8. KABISERA (Arturo San Agustin, Real Florido, 2016) – ★★☆☆☆

Maganda sana dahil napapanahon ang tema nito tungkol sa extrajudicial killings ngunit hindi maayos ang pagkakalahad ng kwento.

Parang binigyan ang bawat artista ng kanyang sariling dramatic highlight para magpakitang-gilas kaya lahat sila eh three notches higher ang akting. Maliban kay Nora Aunor, parang hindi na mabibigyan ng susunod na project ang supporting cast kaya bigay todo na sa pag-ngawa kahit hindi naman kelangan sa eksena.

Ang daming mga bagay na parang walang sense at pinahaba lamang para mapuno ang two hour requirement. Mas mabuti pa yata kung ginawa na lamang siyang episode ng MMK.

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

1. PAOLO BALLESTEROS (Die Beautiful)

2. JOSHUA GARCIA (Vince & Kath & James)
3. JOEM BASCON (Oro)
4. ENZO MARCOS (Saving Sally)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

1. EUGENE DOMINGO (Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough)
2. IRMA ADLAWAN (Oro)
3. NORA AUNOR (Kabisera)
4. RHIAN RAMOS (Saving Sally)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

1. CHRISTIAN BABLES (Die Beautiful)

2. LOU VELOSO (Seklusyon)
3. JERICHO ROSALES (Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough)
4. NEIL RYAN SESE (Seklusyon)
5. LOU VELOSO (Die Beautiful)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

1. RHED BUSTAMANTE (Seklusyon)
2. PHOEBE WALKER (Seklusyon)
3. MERCEDES CABRAL (Oro)
4. MIMI JUAREZA (Die Beautiful)
5. GLADYS REYES (Die Beautiful)
6. SUE PRADO (Oro)
7. CAI CORTEZ (Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough)

Until next year!!

The Best Pinoy Films of 2015

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With the abundance of quality films last year, my biggest challenges involved time and accessibility. The cliche that there were too many movies and too little time had never been more apt. The lack of easy access because of limited theaters or just plain proximity (probably next time QCinema!) obviously didn’t help. Still, I was lucky enough to see some real greats last year.

The list begins after my sorry-not-sorry disclaimer below.

Farewell and thank you 2015!!

(Note: Consider this cover photo and the rest of the pictures my version of Mother’s Lily’s pito-pito films. 😊)

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HONOR THY FATHER (Erik Matti, 2015)

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My notes on Honor Thy Father:

1. Two of the best films I’ve seen this year started with a scene involving a stray dog and both ended with a tragedy. These canine metaphors (dog-eat-dog world? Oppression? Survival? Resiliency?) completely served their purpose and were the perfect jumping-off points for these gritty and brutal portraits of evil within our society.

2. I’m not a fan of networking and this made me think thrice on risking any investments involving fast money. For my friends that did get rich through this scheme though, it’s never too late to send me a Christmas basket.

3. I liked how the little girl cast as John Lloyd Cruz’s daughter looked so much like him (eyebags and all). Proper casting doesn’t really seem to be top priority in the local industry where movies and stories are created for and to suit actors so I’m happy to see her in this role. I just wish she did much better in some of the heavy scenes.

4. In a film where every scene was excellently shot, my favorite was the savage skewering of religious fanaticism in the House of Yeshua sequence. Tirso Cruz III was just amazing, fully inhabiting the role of a pastor preaching to his choir. His magnetic presence was so strong that I actually understood why his flock was drawn to his charisma. For almost converting me into his religion, give this man his due please (MMFF jury, this is your warning, er, reminder).

5. That brilliantly-staged looting scene was organized chaos. It crushed my heart knowing that good people could really do these terrible acts out of sheer desperation.

6. Picture-perfect moments. Every single frame was just amazing. Recalling that cemetery scene still gives me goosebumps. Bravo, just bravo!

7. John Lloyd Cruz is the best working actor in Philippine Cinema now (any violent reactions?) I couldn’t select just one scene where he conveyed a multitude of emotions just with his eyes. It’s no blasphemy that he be compared to the great Nora Aunor. Yes, he has reached that level of acting.

8. The head-shaving scene was played for drama in the trailer but it was not milked for tears in the actual film. That kind of restraint made me love this film even more. It could have been an easy play on the heartstrings but it still stung without even trying. And John Lloyd’s entire aria about the evils of man and how one should learn to fight back gave me chills.

9. People will be surprised with Meryll Soriano’s performance here but she has always been consistently excellent in previous indie movies (Donor, Rotonda, Room Boy). I have some of these on DVD if you want to see more of her greatness.

10. That final scene with the haunting song playing in the background is the reason why we should never give up on Philippine Cinema. Our local filmmakers can produce world-class quality films. All they need is your support. Run to the nearest theater and watch this now. NOW!

Rating: ★★★★★