MOVIE REVIEW: ILO ILO (Anthony Chen, 2013)



My notes on Ilo Ilo:

1. Yeo Yann Yann was great, but Angeli Bayani owned this movie. Her acting was so natural and free of hysterics typical in any movie with a Filipina maid.

Actually, the movie wasn’t even about the Filipina maid. She didn’t get raped or abused in Singapore. It was about a Singaporean family trying to live through the effects of the late ’90s financial crisis.

2. Everything here was so vivid and authentic that I felt like I grew up in late ’90s Singapore. Subtle and lovely.

Loved the atmosphere. Just watching it made me feel homesick.

3. I found some of the dialogue a bit off, though. How often do Filipinos really use the words “rubbish” or “nonsense”?

4. The sight of Lucky Plaza always makes me feel happy.

5. There was one sloppy scene where the cameraman was visible in the school bathroom mirror. What happened there?

6. Tamagotchi!! Do you guys still remember that? I cried every single time mine died from poop overdose.

7. It was amazing how restrained the movie was. It had all the ingredients of a full-blown melodrama but there were no extended crying scenes, no blatant heart-tugging moments, no excessive hysteria. If this were a Pinoy film, the airport scene would have been 15 minutes long with overflowing Urian-worthy tears and a swelling cheesy musical score.

8. Speaking of airport scene, I bawled my eyes out in that one even if the movie didn’t really set it up to be a dramatic moment. Angeli didn’t even cry. All the tears came from my seat because I was so invested in these characters.

When Jiale grabbed Terry’s arm, I sobbed like there was no tomorrow. I am a walking Pinoy melodrama.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published March 16, 2014.)

PINAY BEAUTY (SHE’S NO WHITE) (Jay Abello, 2018)



More corny than funny. Sample joke: a burglar broke into a home and accidentally smashed a vase. Old man to burglar: “300 years old na yang vase na yan ah!!”. Burglar to old man: “Hay salamat! Akala ko bago.” Wenk, wenk, wenk!

Although we’re admittedly racist in nature, I still cringed a bit when characters found humor in lines like “Anong akala mo sa Pilipina? Lahat itsurang ita?” or “Majitim, majitim. Black parang si Barack!”. Or was the movie actually telling us not to laugh? I was confused.

It was great to see the uber talented Chai Fonacier lead a movie (especially one that championed morena beauty), but she deserved so much better. Her faux Pak’s Brownening Soap ad said so much more about our mestisa obsession in 30 seconds than this one did in 1.5 hours.

At least it was hilarious to watch Maxine Medina play a beautiful-looking but terrible actress. I’m almost sure that wasn’t much of a stretch.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 15, 2018.)

JO KOY: COMIN’ IN HOT (Shannon Hartman, 2019)


Asian and Latino stereotypes and accents, more Filipino childhood stories (including a hilarious bit on munggo), and the power of small dick energy make for an enjoyable hour of racist (but funny, “Hey, it’s just a joke!”) comedy.

Nerd alert: The Philippines wasn’t colonized by Spain for over 350 years (this one was actually easy for me to remember because it was 333). Also, unlike a quinceañera, a Filipina’s debut is celebrated on her 18th birthday.

Time to work on your credit, kabayans!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆