CIRCA (Adolf Alix, Jr., 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Bilib na bilib ako kay Ms. Anita Linda dito. More than double my age na siya (she’s almost 95!!) pero alam pa rin niya lahat ng mga lines niya dito as the incredibly rich film producer Doña Atang na nakatira sa bahay ni Lola Nidora. Samantala ako hindi ko na maalala minsan saan ko naipatong ang cellphone ko. Iba talaga kapag batikang artista. Totoong walang kupas!!

Napaka-appropriate lang na kasama ito sa Sine Sandaan section ng PPP. May pagka-love letter siya to Philippine Cinema with all the juicy tidbits on the history of local film productions/filmmaking (shooting processes, crucial role ng lagarista, yung diva attitude of certain celebrities, yung rivalry nung mga stars of the golden age, etc.) tapos may mga sundot pa sa current industry (nakakatawa yung sinabi ng character ni Alessandra de Rossi na di na uso ang quality films ngayon kaya puro TV work na lang, na “mouth to mouth” duguan levels ang paggawa).

Mahilig talaga sa all-star cast si Alix (parang halos kalahati ng local film industry may cameo dun sa last movie niya na Madilim ang Gabi) kaya di naman ako nagulat sa mga bigating artista dito kabilang na sina Gina Alajar, Elizabeth Oropesa, Laurice Guillen, Ricky Davao, Liza Lorena, Perla Bautista, etc. Nakakalungkot din makita si Eddie Garcia in full Manoy glory. (Pero kasama ba sa original script yung “Ingat ka baka ka madapa?”. Grabe yung gasp ko sa part na yun nag-echo sa buong theater bilang ako lang ang nanunuod.)

Pinaka-natuwa ako kay Jaclyn Jose dito as the mayordoma of the house. Walang dramatic highlights (except for that weird Amour moment) pero markado ang pagganap. Lakas ng tawa ko nung nag-advocate siya for DVD piracy considering na nagsisilbi siya sa isang producer. Sabagay yung isang character nga sinabi na “Di naman ako namimirata ng local. Puro English lang, makabawi man kang kasi sila ang dahilan bakit tayo humina.” Hmm, magandang topic yan for discussion ha.

Marami siguro ang mababagalan sa pacing ng pelikula pero ok naman siya for me. Medyo mahaba lang at repetitive yung tribute section sa party scene. Pero sobrang fascinated talaga ako in all things na local showbiz kaya nagandahan ako (siguro ang litmus test would be if kaya mo ma-distinguish ang difference ng FAMAS at FAP statues, then this one’s for you). Natuwa din ako dun sa tikbalang na inaalayan ng ponkan kapalit ng box office returns (Mother Lily, what’s your secret?).

Basta sobrang affected ako dito. Nung nag-start na si Doña Atang ng speech niya with “Ang buhay natin ay parang pelikula…”, naluha na lang ako bigla.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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SAAN DARATING ANG UMAGA? (Maryo J. Delos Reyes, 1983)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Saan Darating ang Umaga?:

1. Meron talagang mga pelikula na marinig mo pa lang ang theme song maiiyak ka na. Nung pinanood ko ulit ito recently, hindi pa kumakanta si Raymond Lauchengco (as in instrumental part pa lang sa initial scenes) pero parang sasabog na ang puso ko. Na-picture ko agad si Joel (‘80s child star Jaypee de Guzman) na ngumangawa habang humahabol sa kanyang Ate Shayne (FAMAS Best Supporting Actress winner Maricel Soriano) pagkasoli sa kanya sa ampunan (more on that later).

“Bakit pa pinagtagpo? Pala’y maglalayo tayo sa ating buhay…” Hala, naluluha na ako ulit!!

2. Melodramatic siya to a fault pero sobrang earned yung tears. Ang daling mahalin ng Pamilya Rodrigo kasi they functioned like any normal middle class family during that time. I’m sure maraming oldies like me na makaka-relate sa everyday situations nila. Yung panahon na considered breadwinner pa ang mga tatay habang butihing housewives naman ang mga nanay. Tapos yung tuwing maririnig ng mga bata ang kotse ni tatay eh sasalubungun nila sa gate ng bahay at maghahanap ng dalang pasalubong.

Ang conservative pa ang values noon kaya nakakaaliw ang pag-ku-kuwento ng nanay na si Lorrie (the magnificent Nida Blanca) kay Shayne ng trade secrets to maintain a healthy partnership. Natawa ako nung sinabi niya na kahit ang tagal na nila mag-asawa, hindi pa siya nakikita ni Ruben (Nestor de Villa) na nakahubad para hindi ito maghanap ng iba. Very 80’s maybahay talaga.

Also, nakakatawa ang kulitan scenes nilang mag-nanay. Nung lumabas si Shayne na todo make-up before going to school (kasi in love ang ate mo), ang unang hirit ni mudang eh “Do you have a party today?”. Ayun napikon, sabay walkout at galit na galit ginaya ang nanay niya sa harapan ng salamin. Ganyan na ganyan ako kapag asar-talo.

3. Malungkot ang major themes on adoption, loss, and grief. Ang sakit sa puso nung sinabi ni Lorrie na “Bakit naman kasi kung sino pa yung gustong-gusto magkaanak, siya pa ang laging nakukunan?”. Makikita rin dito na for the privileged ang legal adoption. Magastos ang overall process at kelangan talaga na malinaw ang financial support. Obvious naman na can afford sila kasi ang lawak ng garden in their gated subdivision home (big enough para mag-sunbathing si Shayne dahil feel lang niya haha!).

Ang medyo naguluhan lang ako ay yung pagbabalik kay Joel nung dulo. Allowed ba talaga yun dahil nabaliw si Lorrie at in danger na ang bata kapag kasama siya? Nakaka-sad kasi parang hiniram lang siya na laruan tapos nung hindi na nila kaya alagaan eh isosoli na lang ulit.

I really liked the strong connection nito dun sa isa pang pelikula ni Maricel na Ama, Ina, Anak. Daming similarities including yung sibling rivalry, although that one wasn’t as tragic.

4. Speaking of sibling rivalry, believable talaga yung pagmamaldita ni Shayne out of jealousy lalo na at na-divert sa new bunso lahat ng attention. Na kahit ang laki ng age gap nila, ultimo pasalubong na chocolates eh nakikipag-agawan pa siya sa bata (di naman ako nagulat kasi even nung pabitin scene eh parang gusto niya sumali).

Sobrang paawa din kasi yung mukha ni Joel kaya natawa ako sa pasimpleng sipa sa kanya ni Shayne nung aerobics scene. At kahit ako uminit ang ulo nung puro drawings na ang favorite niya na plastic-covered copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude (first, kasi I really love that book, and second, kasi nangyari rin ito sa akin at nung nasira ang magazine ko na collector’s item, ako pa ang napagalitan ng parentals at sinabihan na babayaran nila, as if meron pang copy nun at may katumbas na price ang sentimental value haha bitter pa rin).

(Side note: Huy Shayne, binigyan ka lang ng book ng stalker mo tapos date na agad? Anyare sa conservative values na sinasabi ko kanina?)

Pero syempre naawa pa rin ako kay Joel nung binalibag at pinagsasampal siya habang tinatawag na ampon kasi alam naman natin paano si Marya sa iconic sampalan scenes niya.

5. Maganda talaga yung increased awareness regarding depression. Dati hindi ko maintindihan masyado yung immediate change of emotions ni Lorrie kay Joel after mamatay ni Ruben. Iniisip ko kasi na nanay pa rin siya at sobrang minahal niya yung bata so bakit ang bilis niya magpa-Sophie’s Choice kay Shayne na mamili sa kanilang dalawa.

Pero ngayon alam ko na kung ano ang severe adverse effects ng grief sa mental state ng tao. Posible siyang mangyari kapag nakaka-experience ng ganung trauma from a tragedy. Yung umaabot talaga sa point na kukuha ng scissors at pagsasasaksakin ang portrait ng isang bata.

(Side note ulit: After repeat viewings, napansin ko na ang ganda ng foreshadowing nung beach race scene lalo na kung intentional siya. Eto yung hinablot ni Lorrie yung “flag” kay Joel tapos tuloy-tuloy siyang tumakbo na walang pakialam kahit nahulog na yung bunso niya sa kinatatayuang bato. At very apt na si Shayne talaga ang tumigil para saluhin ang bata.)

6. “Minsan isang umaga babalikan kita.” One of the saddest final lines ever written.

Kung marami kang pent-up emotions today, panoorin mo na siya. Wag kalimutan ang box ng tissue.

Rating: ★★★★☆

IKAW PA LANG ANG MINAHAL (Carlos Siguion-Reyna, 1992)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ikaw Pa Lang ang Minahal:

1. In a recent screening of the remastered and restored version of this Pinoy classic, Maricel Soriano spilled some scalding tea when she (jokingly) expressed her disappointment on not winning any major award for her performance in this film which she considered one of her favorites (she lost in the Big Four to Lorna Tolentino for Narito ang Puso Ko). She then mentioned that her loss at least inspired her to come up with much better output and more collaborations with director Carlos Siguion-Reyna. 

You could ask any Maricelian and they would definitely share the same frustration, including the fact that she had never won an Urian award. Some would probably even bring up these unfounded rumors that Lolit Solis (then manager of Lorna) used her clout and bribed the academy (Famas, FAP) and press (Star Awards) voters and that a couple of Manunuris (Urian) had a particular dislike for Maricel and blocked most of her wins.

Regardless of the eventual results, the truth remained though that her flawless turn as Adela Sevilla would be one for the books. To paraphrase her character: “Mamahalin nila ako. Mamahalin nila ako para sa inyong lahat na hindi nagmahal sa akin!”.

2. I originally saw this when it was first released back in 1992 and it felt surreal watching it again in a theater 26 years later. I didn’t even know back then that this was an adaptation of William Wyler’s 1949 film, The Heiress with Olivia de Havilland, which in turn was based on Henry James’ novel, Washington Square (did I miss the acknowledgments during the opening/closing credits or was there really no mention of this?). I was so clueless that when I saw the 1997 Washington Square film with Jennifer Jason Leigh, I wanted to personally write to Direk Carlos that somebody copied his masterpiece (thank goodness for ISP Bonanza’s slow dial-up connection!).

3. To this day, I still couldn’t get over the fact that Dr. Maximo Sevilla (a terrific Eddie Gutierrez) was a renowned doctor considering that he couldn’t even perform basic CPR. He almost crushed his dying wife’s rib cage and never resorted to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and he even followed the same process with his dying daughter several years later (thankfully, the latter survived). At least his character made me understand the cariño brutal way that my mother used to raise all of her kids (if you’re reading this mom, I only included that to raise my word count).

Also, it was so ironic that the coldhearted Dr. Sevilla was actually right from the start in seeing through the real motives of David Javier (a wily Richard Gomez). Minsan na nga lang magka-Javier na character eh tuso pa. (Side note: Richard used to be my mom’s favorite local actor. Ipinaglihi niya ang youngest brother ko sa kanya. Ayun nakuha naman ni utol ang nunal sa right temple ni Richard hahaha!)

4. There were so many moments here that crushed my heart (Dr. Sevilla enumerating his regrets on having a pathetic daughter, Adela’s waterfall breakdown scene, the forced writing of the will, the deathbed reconciliation, etc.), but the scene that made me cry the most didn’t even have any dialogue (just some background music). It was the part where Adela was sitting inside her room, her face a mix of emotions, and then she finally smiled because she felt loved. She stood up, got a pink flower from the bouquet that David gave her, stood near the window, smelled the flower, and broke into tears. Yung feeling na “Lord thank you at nagka-jowa pa ako akala ko talaga mamamatay na akong single at walang magmamahal sa akin!”.

Seriously though, parang ako ang naka-jackpot ng jowa while watching this woman (tormented all her life by her disapproving dad even if she was a skillful manggagantsilyo) experience the gift of happiness that she deserved. (Again, Maricel didn’t win anything for this??)

5. That scene where Adela in glasses and wearing the dowdiest clothes stood next to the glamorous portrait of her mom (also named Adela btw and played by the lovely Dawn Zulueta) spoke volumes. Direk Carlos employed the same juxtaposition technique in Inagaw Mo and Lahat sa Akin to effectively differentiate social classes. Such a brilliant director (and still my favorite local one).

(Side note: Maricel in an old maid’s costume still looked gorgeous, sorry, but I was willing to suspend my disbelief.)

6. Anybody would want to have a kunsintidora aunt like Tiyang Paula. She was a welcome comic relief in this heavy drama. “Mukhang matindi ang sipon mo at kelangan mo pang lunurin sa alcohol.” Nyahahaha!

Sadly, Charito Solis was an acting legend who was gone way too soon.

7. Choice quotes for some melodramatic moments in your life…

• “Hindi baleng pulubi, basta hindi ahas!”

“Hindi baleng ahas, basta mahal ko!”

• “Bibilhin ko siya sa bawat singko na ipamamana mo sa akin! Tingnan ko lang kung di ka mangisay sa libingan mo!”

• “Gustuhin ko man, di ko magagawa. Sa puso nanggagaling ang pagpapatawad. Wala akong puso, nagmana ako sa’yo!”

8. Speaking of ahas, why did they always choose to have sex in the talahiban? It looked really scary. And mukhang makati.

9. Adela’s transformation from naive doormat to a feisty and heartless heredera. Wow! I wanted to stand up and cheer when she entered that church with her luscious curls wearing the bitchiest red dress with a matching belt bag. And that scene where she threw the hundred peso bills and David was temporarily stunned by all the flying cash? Iconic.

10. Was it just a coincidence that ugly Adela wore pearls while beautiful Adela wore diamonds? Shine bright like a real Diamond Star indeed.

Rating: ★★★★★

THE DANISH GIRL (Tom Hooper, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Danish Girl:

1. Much has been said about Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance in The Revenant but I still maintain that Eddie Redmayne was last year’s best actor. His portrayal of Einar Wegener turned Lili Elbe was nothing short of spectacular. Every blink of an eye, flick of a finger, and point of the toes revealed the longing of a woman trapped inside a man’s body desperately wanting to break free. It transcended impersonation (which he did brilliantly as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything) and became a full-fledged transformation.

You may not win the Oscar this year my dear freckle-faced Eddie, but you are getting my Gushing Fan Best Actor Award (and with the current state of our local awards, this actually is more valuable than a Star Award or Famas).

2. I was too lazy to check Google but do raw eggs really improve fertility? I couldn’t really trust this information since the film was set in the 1920s where homosexuality was still considered a perversion caused by a chemical imbalance and the prescribed “cure” was radiation therapy (“It destroys the bad and saves the good”). Oh wait, the old couple behind me agreed that it was a disease and an abnormality and I felt like I was transported back in time (but more on them later).

3. Girls, if your husbands know how to fix your lipstick, has a fascination with different textures of clothing (fur coats, silk nightgowns, nylon stockings, etc.), lifts his pinky while sipping tea or drinking champagne, and fondly tries on your outfits in front of a mirror while tucking his penis between his legs, then do the right thing and set him free. Be a supportive wife like Gerda in a world full of Aling Dionesia. (Lili even became Gerda’s muse and future moneymaker. Talk about a lucky charm.) Let your scarf fly!

(FYI, Alicia Vikander as Gerda was phenomenal as well.)

4. The best moments here were definitely the heartbreaking ones:

• When asked where Lili was coming from and Einer said “Inside me”

• After the radiation therapy and he cried, “You hurt Lili”

• And when Lili recalled a dream that she just had where she was a baby and her mom looked down at her and called her by her real name “Lili”.

5. As I mentioned earlier, I had the unfortunate luck of sitting in front of an old couple during the screening and the old man let the theater know his views on adultery, reproductive health, and homosexuality, among others. When the lights went up, he loudly said, “Kaya namamatay yang mga bakla, hindi makuntento sa binigay ng Diyos sa kanila.” So I did what was right. I simply stood up, smiled at him, and let him be because well, that would be the most Christian response, right?

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published February 8, 2016.)