AD ASTRA (James Gray, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Grabe ‘teh! Good call talaga na hindi natuloy ang plan ko manuod sa IMAX with Laser ng Evia. Dun lang ako sa Dolby Atmos cinema nila pero nahilo na ako at di nakahinga sa scene na nag-freefall si perpetually sad astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) from outer space to earth.

Akala ko aantukin lang ako sa film kasi medyo traumatized pa ako sa pretentiousness (ay sorry, profundity daw) ng Interstellar at Solaris (the Soderbergh remake), but I survived naman with my major buttered popcorn and large iced tea from Taters (very Krissy lang, sana i-sponsor na nila ako). I can’t say the same for the rest of the audience. Meron mga mahimbing ang tulog habang yung isa eh walang ginawa kundi mag-check ng cellphone (pasalamat siya at five rows ahead siya sa akin kaya di ako pumatol).

I guess tama yung mga nagsabi na this might not be for everyone. Puno kasi ng introspective voiceovers about the meaning of life and relationships (“In the end, the son suffers the sins of the father”) ang pelikula kaya medyo slow ang pacing. Halos bumagsak ako nung Philo classes ko back in college kaya hirap na hirap sumabay yung utak ko dito.

Meron naman mga major ganap every so often (yung mala-Mad Max: Fury Road lunar chase scene, yung baboon na puno ng angst, etc.). Masaya din mag-isip kung ano yung mga space-related films ng cast (every time nagsasalita sa recorded video si Liv Tyler, naaalala ko ang Armageddon at kung bakit mas gusto ko ang Deep Impact).

Natawa ako dun sa space shuttle na naghatid kay Roy sa moon kasi very Cebu Pacific at lahat may bayad. Kulang na lang sumigaw yung FA ng “Snacks for sale!”. Interesting din na ang daming mahahabang hallways sa lahat ng hubs dito, including yung sa Mars. Mayaman talaga ang Amerika. Tapos yung futuristic room na may moving images reminded me of Black Mirror’s Fifteen Million Merits. Nung blooming flowers yung background, sobrang ganda at pwede na ma-post sa One Perfect Shot (o alam na, strong contender na naman si Hoyte van Hoytema for Best Cinematography sa Oscars next year).

But the best thing about this was Brad. Ang expressive ng mga mata niya lalo na sa scene na nananawagan siya sa father niya (the always masungit Tommy Lee Jones) na matagal na di nagpaparamdam. Imagine mo na lang kung gaano kahirap maghanap ng missing tatay sa bawat sulok ng mundo. Eh paano pa kung sa Neptune diba? Walang-wala lahat ng daddy issues ninyo.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

EDWARD (Thop Nazareno, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Yeng Constantino left the group.

Pero seryoso, nakakapanlumo ang current state ng public healthcare natin. Parang magkakasakit din ako habang nakikita ang kakulangan ng staff and proper equipment sa ospital dito. Yung feeling na parang dinala ka dun para lang mapabilis ang pagkamatay mo. Bigat sa puso.

Nagustuhan ko si Louise Abuel sa title role ha. May natural charm siya na reminiscent of Stefano Mori kahit nililibag ang leeg niya. Tapos sobrang effective ni Dido dela Paz na hindi na rin ako makahinga sa bawat ubo niya. Pero pinakanatuwa ako kay Sarah Brakensiek as Nurse Daisy. Sample bedside manner ala nanay: “Cellphone ka nang cellphone hindi ka pa magaling!!”

Ewan ko ba kung anong kasalanan ko dito kay Thop Nazareno. Hindi ko naman naging jowa pero grabe lagi mangwasak ng puso. Ang lakas pa naman ng ilaw sa sinehan ng Evia nakita tuloy ng iba na namumugto mata ko dahil sa lecheng cupcake socks at sheer hopelessness ng ending.

Ang impressive pa ng mga long takes niya lalo na yung opening shot sa ER. Dun pa lang ipapanalangin mo na na sana sapat ang savings at insurance mo para di ka madala sa similar medical facility. Wala na ba talagang lunas ang sakit na ito?

Rating: ★★★★☆

SA GABING TANGING LIWANAG AY PANINIWALA (Francis Amir Guillermo, 2019)

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Bakit parang napanood ko na ito dati bilang Ma ni Kenneth Lim Dagatan (down to the sacrifical lambs and burning tree)?

Alam ko may horror element ang pelikula (hello, di pa ba giveaway ang pagluha ng dugo ni Ate?) pero kelangan ba talaga ganun siya kadilim? Di ko na pwede sisihin ang projection ng Greenbelt 1 kasi sa Evia ako nanood at sobrang linaw ng sinehan nila.

Para akong bulag kanina na pilit inaaninag kung anong nangyayari sa screen. Naging effective siya sa isang scene: yung may maraming (patay?) na tao na nakatayo sa harapan ng bata na feeling ko maaalala ko mamaya sa panaginip ko. Pero yung iba halos wala na talaga ako makita.

Kaya nung parang may mga umiikot-ikot at sumasamba sa puno, inisip ko na lang na gustong maging poetic ng pelikula at pinipilit akong maniwala sa wala.

(Oo na, hindi ko lubusang naintindihan. O tapos?)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MALEDICTO (Mark Meily, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Maledicto:

1. It had been two days already and I still couldn’t get over the fact that I paid Php335 to watch this exorcism comedy. Ano bang masamang espiritu ang sumapi sa akin kahapon? Seriously, I could have used that money for a month’s worth of Netflix subscription so I wouldn’t need to leech off my bff’s account anymore. Besides, this was the kind of cheapie horror film meant to be seen on TV on a late Sunday night while battling a serious case of insomnia (an effective cure, for sure).

2. Tom Rodriguez (who might also be affected by Maynilad’s water shortage given his constantly constipated, hadn’t taken a dump in three days look) played Father Xavi, a psychiatrist turned priest (ooh career shift!) that didn’t believe in demonic possessions. As a man of science first, he assumed that there was always a logical, non-spiritual explanation on these supposed otherworldly events.

When asked to perform an exorcism on a possessed kid, the skeptic in him looked for signs that the boy was actually suffering from a medical condition. His initial diagnosis? “Madumi ang ngipin. Baka hindi lang nagsisipilyo.” Hek hek hek!!

3. In the late ‘80s, Phillip Salvador portrayed Father Balweg, a Catholic priest who founded the militant group Cordillera People’s Liberation Army. Father Xavi tried to one-up the said rebel priest by doing such un-holy, mej bad boy stuff like excessive drinking and smoking while playing a somber piece on his piano. His brashness was also evident when dealing with other people, like when he had this conversation with Sister Barbara (Jasmine Curtis-Smith):

Father Xavi: “Ok, I’ll help you, but I get to call you Barbie because your name’s boring.”

Sister Barbara turned Barbie: “Shige ne nge!”

Kaloka ka Sis!!

4. Non-sponsored plug: the screen in Evia was crystal clear and merited the exorbitant ticket price. The movie’s production team probably forgot that these cinemas exist though because in the first scene alone, the bruises on Mara’s (Inah de Belen) face looked like she just had too much fun with the Vice Cosmetics line.

Several scenes were noticeably out of focus and I just kept getting distracted by that hazy filter that blurred the edges in most frames. In terms of visual effects, I couldn’t determine where the swarm of flies came from in the scene where Mara had her mouth open ala The Mummy (parang they were just traumatized by her bad case of halitosis). And in what tacky club/bar would we see these ribbon strips dangling from the ceiling? Que horror!!

5. One of my favorite, laugh-out-loud moments was when Agnes (Miles Ocampo) chased an askal in this eskinita and then it turned on her and bit her. Sabay labas si Manang Sisa (Liza Lorena) who grabbed her bloody hand, looked at her palm, and said something like, “Gusto mo ba malaman sino ang magiging boyfriend mo?” and everything was just forgotten. Gurrrl, never heard of rabies?!

Side note: Agnes supposedly got possessed by the demonic doggie spirit so in the succeeding scene, she was shown wearing skimpy clothes and displayed her new goth look. Anak ng demonyo! Who made this movie? My grandmother?? (Or maybe it was just the rabies?)

6. First time to hear a voiceover while a character was flipping through a book: “Ahh, here it is!”.

Also, first time to see a person’s name crossed out during the end credits. Kawawa naman si Russel Remo.

7. During the exorcism, psychiatrist turned priest and probably turned chef Father Xavi started pouring mounds of salt around the bed. Hala, may balak pa ata siya gawing daing si Agnes! (But wait, wouldn’t her extended, wagging tongue make a better lengua instead?)

8. So there was a sub-plot slash twist about the Church’s cover-up on demonic possessions by equating them with drug use related to a coven of witches with horoscope signs on their palms. Would this be tackled further in the possible sequel that was hinted at by a mid-credits sequence? Juskong mahabagin!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆