ANG HENERASYONG SUMUKO SA LOVE (Jason Paul Laxamana, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Super concerned ako sa tropang ito kasi di pinag-usapan ang transpo nung nag-anniversary reunion sila sa kanilang out-of-town meeting place. Seryoso, hiwa-hiwalay ang pagdating? Close ba talaga sila?

Tapos yung movie was really less about their friendship and more on their individual lives. Yung parang US network show na mag-reminisce yung isang character tapos biglang flashback sa story niya. Meron sila kanya-kanyang segments that depicted their mostly petty problems (least of all yung love, kaya di ko rin nakuha ang title).

Si Ma-an (Jane Oineza) naunahan na ni Ellenya L. Desperate siya for online validation pero ang chaka ng content ng vlogs. Kelangan pa niya mag-drawing ng line graph before ma-realize na mas mataas na ang subscriber count niya kesa sa jowa ng ex niya (whut?).

Si Denzel (Jerome Ponce) naman ay bakla kasi siya yung loud, bitchesa, at tumitili kapag may pumuputok na lobo. Maayos pa naman umarte si Jerome in his previous films pero itinodo niya ang pagiging screaming queen dito. Yung every pilantik ng kamay eh di mo makakalimutan ang gender niya. Tapos nagmahal siya ng isang guy na ayaw siya i-kiss until official na sila pero gusto ng open relationship (huh? Mga vaklang twoooh!). Nasayang tuloy ang budget Magic Mike moves niya.

(Side note: Anim na seniors ang nag-walk out sa segment na ‘to kasi puro Grindr hook-ups. So plus one star agad kasi nabawasan ang ngumunguya ng chicharon sa sinehan.)

Ang mag-jowa na Hadj (Albie Casiño) at Junamae (Myrtle Sarrosa) mag-MU kaya sila pero hindi talaga sila (wait, anong term sa ganito ng current generation, pang-thunders na kasi ang MU). Nakakatawa si Hadj kasi siya yung infatuated sa Hollywood rom-coms kaya puro couples lang ang nakikita niya kahit saan tumingin. Pero feeling ko mahilig din siya sa Pinoy melodrama bilang nag-ala Gabby Concepcion acting via Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin siya nung lalayasan na ni Junamae (yan talaga pangalan niya baka tatay niya si Jun at nanay si Inamae jk).

Yung story ni Kurt (Tony Labrusca) ang pinaka-nagustuhan ko kasi nag-resonate sa akin yung situation niya na burnout sa work kaya affected ang physical and mental state niya. Nakakadala ang scene na umiiyak na lang siya habang tuloy-tuloy ang pagtanggap niya ng trabaho kasi kelangan (and also kasi nga di na sya nakakapag-isip ng maayos). Nung nag-describe siya na blank ang feeling kahit ano pa ang ma-achieve niya, ramdam ko yun sobra.

Sayang talaga kasi kulang sa bonding ang mga characters na ‘to. Di ko man lang alam paano sila naging magkakasundo given their different attitudes and personalities. Dinaan na lang sa isang montage sa dulo before hugging it out over a sensitive matter. I guess hanggang ganun na lang talaga siya. Wag na daw tayo magreklamo as long as naghuhubad lagi si Tony dito.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MAN AND WIFE (Laurice Guillen, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Para akong pumasok sa portal ni Dr. Strange tapos bumalik ako sa late ‘80s at nanood ng prehistoric na mala-teleseryeng pelikulang ito sa Alabang Twin Cinema. (FYI: It was loosely based on Gulong ng Palad.)

Ang main problem ni Jodi Sta. Maria dito eh sunud-sunuran siya sa mister niya. Seryoso? Itatakwil siya ng Gabriela for sure. Jusko very dated ng tema kaya pala si Gabby Concepcion ang kinuhang mister niya.

In one scene, Jodi was having a shouting match with her sister. Their mother (Amy Austria) intervened and broke a piggy bank in front of them (“Nag-aaway kayo dahil sa pera? Ayan ubusin n’yo!!”). It was supposed to be a dramatic moment but all I could think of was, “Ubusin alin? Yung mga barya??”.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

FELIX MANALO (Joel Lamangan, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Felix Manalo:

1. Let me start with a disclaimer. To all my INC friends, this is not an attack on your religious beliefs. All my opinions are about the movie and none on our differences of faith. Love and peace.

2. When I first saw the trailer of this film, I thought, what else was there to show? And I was right. Everything you needed to know was right there, down to all the stars and starlets that had cameo roles.

3. To be fair, there were some noteworthy things in this movie. The costumes and production design (except for the Xeroxed portraits of American Presidents) definitely showed that the movie had a huge budget and the attention to detail was commendable. Some roles (although predictable, Jaime Fabregas as a prayle? Groundbreaking!) were also well-acted.

4. I wasn’t sure why every location (down to street names) and year had to be flashed onscreen. I guess the movie wanted to clearly show the timeline (Birth to death! No wonder it was three hours long!!) of important events in Manalo’s life. But really, did we need to be reminded that they were in Paranaque when the shop clearly showed Sumbrereria de Paranaque? How about the word Maynila shown in the scene that was shot in front of the Manila City Hall?

5. For a movie with a budget though, the sound design was scratchy, the musical score was relentless, the editing was confusing (with abrupt transitions from scene to scene), and the visual effects (especially during the war scenes) were laughable. Also, in the latter part of the movie, Dennis Trillo and Bela Padilla (with perma-crimped hair) played older versions of themselves with full-on face latex but their hands didn’t even age one bit. That was a missed Vaseline endorsement right there.

6. I’m sure Manalo’s a very interesting person but this movie just didn’t give his life story any justice. The idea of a man constantly questioning his source of faith and transferring from one religion to another in search of the ultimate truth is a gold mine. Such a missed opportunity.

7. It was a typical Joel Lamangan (of late) movie. Some scenes were staged like a high school drama. Please bring back the director that created searing socio-political commentaries like Bulaklak ng Maynila and Ang Huling Birhen sa Lupa.

8. I really didn’t understand the whole Japanese War sequence. Was it to show that the INC were severely persecuted for staying true to their faith? The only thing I clearly understood was that we don’t have any other Japanese captain to cast in our movies except for Jacky Woo.

9. Speaking of great casting, Gabby Concepcion played the son of Dennis Trillo. I know, right?

10. One other thing that wasn’t clearly explained in the movie was the instant wealth of Manalo. The latter scenes showed him living in a mansion in Riverside, San Juan and another one showed him riding a Cadillac. Sure, it would have been a controversial topic that might spark a lot of debate but isn’t that what biopics are for?

11. If they got one thing right, it was to ask Sarah G. to sing the movie’s theme song. An additional star just for that (hey, this is my rating!).

12. The end credits listed the actors’ names in alphabetical order. By first name. I wanted to cry.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published October 19, 2015.)

INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY (Adam Robitel, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Insidious: The Last Key:

1. One could easily say that the return of parapsychologist Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) on yet another tired installment of this horror franchise was both a blessing and a curse.

Shaye would forever be that badly-tanned old neighbor smooching a pooch in There’s Something About Mary, but she brought a certain amount of grace and seriousness usually missing in this genre. On the other hand, she was also playing a character that was killed at the end of the very first film so there wasn’t really any sense of danger in this prequel, considering what you already knew about her fate.

2. It would have been more forgivable if this movie was at least scary, but it basically recycled most of the jump scares that were already used in the first three films (the scene where Darth Maul suddenly showed up on the shoulder of another character was utilized here again to lesser effect). I had more fun watching the reactions of people inside the theater, especially this group of women seated two rows in front of us. One kept loudly asking questions that made it more obvious she had her eyes covered the entire time (“Anong nangyari? Bakit sila sumigaw?”). Hala siya, sayang naman ang bayad, Ate.

3. So for an entire hour we weren’t really seeing ghosts from the Further and they were real victims abducted by these monster men? How many times did the writers watch Don’t Breathe?

4. “I don’t have memories of that place. I have scars.” Also, literal scars on her back. I wanted to hug Elise after that scene. I just couldn’t stand this type of torture for an old lady.

It reminded me of the time I cried watching Gloria Romero suffer at the hands of her undead son Gabby Concepcion in Huwag Kang Hahalik sa Diablo. Leave these old women alone!!

On a different note, why did the actor that played Elise’s younger brother Christian look so much older than her?

5. I laughed so hard when the demon literally had a key for fingers and started locking up the neck and chest of some characters. I waited for the end credits to check its name (hey, the last one was called Lipstick-Face) and surprise, surprise it was named Key Face.

6. Those bumbling sidekicks were painfully unfunny (“She’s psychic. We’re sidekicks.”). Walang dulot at all. This horror movie needed more victims and it was a shame that these two had to stay alive for continuity reasons. Their presence alone made me want to buy an emergency whistle as well.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

UNEXPECTEDLY YOURS (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2017)

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I think I just had a Classic Pare Titos and Titas of Manila moment while watching this movie since I couldn’t help myself from twitterpating (kilig lang yan, inartehan ko) over such a cute couple. Nope, not talking about JoshLia (even if Joshua Garcia and Julia Barretto were also really charming here). I was of course referring to the Sharon Cuneta-Robin Padilla love team that still showcased such palpable chemistry twenty five years after Maging Sino Ka Man.

I previously mentioned that I liked this combo much better than the Sharon-Gabby and Sharon-Richard pairing because the very Pinoy langit-lupa theme (and all the conflicts that stemmed from this social class gap) always made for great dramedy. It was even put to good use here because it was an older people romance straight out of the Nancy Meyers universe.

This should have been the comeback vehicle of Ate Shawie since her performance here just felt more relaxed and natural compared to the one in Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha. She displayed great comedic timing, especially while verbally sparring with Robin (mega kilig yung sagutan nila ng “Adik!” and “Sa’yo!” waaah!). Her controlled emotions during her dramatic moments were even reminiscent of her grand slam performance in Madrasta. I really liked the scene where she was crying out of self-pity (“Matanda na ako…”) because her realizations were genuinely painful to watch.

I wish the movie focused more on their romance since the JoshLia story actually served as a distraction. It would have worked still without their love angle since the young ones were so believable as their blood relatives (Julia as Sharon’s daughter and Joshua as Robin’s nephew). Also, all the millennial discussion including a cringey FGD just felt off. It had just as much insight about this generation as any episode of Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X.

Speaking of Julia, I was really surprised at how much she had continuously improved in terms of acting (even after her good work in Love You to the Stars and Back). She had this lovely scene with Sharon where she was telling her why she didn’t want to end up just like her mother and she definitely held her own against the Megastar. The Claudine comparisons would be inevitable, but with the right projects, she should be able to step out of her aunt’s shadow soon.

In one scene, Julia was wearing a shirt that had the word “MIST” on the right shoulder and “AKES” on the left side. I thought, “Wow, cool! A gay shirt saying that she’s a mist!”. It took me a full twenty seconds to realize that it actually spelled “mistakes”. Bwiset! Chalk that up to another Titos and Titas of Manila moment.

Rating: ★★★☆☆