CATCH ME… I’M IN LOVE (Mae Czarina Cruz, 2011)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Hay naku, buti na lang talaga at ang nakatuluyan ni Warden Roan (Sarah Geronimo) in real life ay si childhood friend Vitto (Matteo Guidicelli) at hindi si Presidential asshole Erick (Gerald Anderson). Sabihan ba naman siya na “mukhang high school teacher na tumandang dalaga”, bakit mo piniling mahalin yan girl?

May baong kilig naman ang AshRald pero hindi ko kinaya yung mga eksena dito tulad ng paglalandian nila sa pilapil. Kelan pa naging romantic ang pagyayakapan sa putikan? Eek! Anong sunod, magpapagulong-gulong kayo sa Payatas?

Wala masyadong ganap. Akala ko nga tapos na ang movie nung first hour mark kasi happy ending na. But no, biglang nagdagdag ng unnecessary conflicts (katulad ng irrational na pagiging insekyora ni Roan) na hindi naman dapat problema in the first place. Kaya ayun mabilisan din na-resolve before the pretend kissing scene (bantay-sarado pa si Mommy Divine dati eh).

Nakakalungkot talaga na ang only character development dito ni Roan eh natuto siyang mag-style ng buhok kasi wala siyang ginawa sa buong pelikula kundi ayusin ang makulit niyang bangs.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MY PERFECT YOU (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

I’m being incredibly generous already considering that I hated the first two-thirds of this movie and even considered walking out because the rom-com part was just too painful to watch.

It somewhat recovered in its final act touching on an interesting subject matter (still iffy on the romanticization of a mental health disorder), but I still had this feeling that Star Cinema wanted to duplicate the success (and formula) of Kita Kita.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published March 14, 2018.)

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.)

AWOL (Enzo Williams, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Forget that the movie was pro-EJK (it really wasn’t any different from a Fernando Poe, Jr. or Charles Bronson revenge flick), it was just terrible. It couldn’t even give the audience a decent showdown between the bida and kontrabida (puro batuhan lang ng putang ina).

Why did Gerald Anderson talk that way? Parang namamaga ang dila.

Mag-ingat sa lechon. Nakamamatay.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published August 21, 2017.)

F#*@BOIS (Eduardo Roy, Jr., 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Frontrow and center ang fearless performance dito ni Ricky Davao. Wala akong maisip na ibang veteran actor na kayang buong tapang na dila-dilaan at isubo ang paa ng ibang tao (juskopo, sana naman nagpa-foot spa muna si Fuccboi #1 bago gawin ang eksena). Nangangamoy grand slam siya ngayong taon ha.

If you’ve seen Pamilya Ordinaryo or Quick Change, hindi ka na maninibago sa takbo at style ng pelikulang ito. Yung todo sa stress levels tapos wala ka naman magawa kundi manood at ma-stress pa lalo. Tapos hindi ka bibigyan ng malinis na resolution kaya gusto mo na lang umuwi at mag-shower agad agad.

Nagustuhan ko na ipinakita dito ang mundo nina Ace (Royce Cabrera) at Mico (Kokoy de Santos, a revelation) bilang mga sex workers slash konteseros. Ramdam yung desperation na kumita ng pera habang rumarampa na halos labas ang kaluluwa maliban sa tube sock na nakapasok sa kanilang bikini.

(Side note: Hindi ko alam kung intentional pero ang ganda na yung pattern ng dugo sa likod ni Ace pagkatapos ng saksakan ay parang parte ng design sa national costume niya nung bikini open.)

Sana lang mas naging invested pa ako sa characters nila. Hindi kasi umabot sa point na halos mabaliw na ako kakaisip kung nasaan si Baby Arjan. Siguro rin kasi may negative perception agad talaga sa mga fuccbois. Kasalanan na naman ‘to ni Gerald.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MIDSOMMAR (Ari Aster, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Midsommar:

1. Let me preface this by stating that I would never recommend this film to just about anyone. My high rating wasn’t really a reflection of its overall quality. Rather, it spoke more about the perverse pleasure that I had watching old people’s faces smashed to smithereens or the silly thought that a horny teenage girl used her pubic hair trimmings as a vital ingredient to a love elixir (or better put, organic gayuma that would put all those Quiapo-made ones to shame).

Pretty sure a good number of you might find this misadvertised (?) horror movie reaaaaally slow and excruciatingly boring (even worse, lacking a decent payoff). I should know, I felt the exact same grief with Ari Aster’s feature length debut film Hereditary and its snail-paced two hours (plus knockoff Paranormal Activity 3 ending). You had been properly warned.

2. I mentioned before that Get Out gave me that creepy Shake, Rattle & Roll II: Aswang vibe where Daniel Kaluuya’s character Chris resembled the offering of the month Portia, played by local horror princess Manilyn Reynes. Well this one took it to a whole new level by increasing the number of Portias and cranking up the overall weirdness (and this coming from someone who had seen both versions of Wicker Man).

I had never been this scared of villagers wearing all-white outfits (imagine the boxes of Tide that they consumed!!) and faint, chanting sounds that would never be part of my ASMR nightly playlist. Because of this movie, Sweden definitely dropped to the bottom of my travel checklist, just a little above Slovakia (no thanks to you Hostel!!).

3. There were several moments here that required suspension of disbelief because nobody in their right minds would see a body freefall from a cliff and not run as far away as possible from that crime scene (no, not even if one would win a Pulitzer for Anthropology by writing about that cultish ritual). And who wouldn’t question the type of meat pies that were being served to them, especially one that had a golden pube? (This reminded me again of another Manilyn classic, the Zombies episode of Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang where they got served a special soup filled with hair, nails, and ultimately “MATAAAAAA!!”).

Why didn’t these people ever feel the need to… wait for it, get out?!

4. Still, the most disturbing bits for me were the ones where Dani Gurl (Florence Pugh) suffered from panic attacks caused by the trauma of her bipolar sister killing their entire family (the sight of the sister with that exhaust tube taped around her mouth was the stuff of nightmares).

One of my favorite scenes was this smooth transition of Dani exiting the living room and ending up hyperventilating in the plane’s lavatory (my other favorite was that disorienting upside down shot of the car traversing the country road, reminiscent of Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead).

Pugh’s a terrific actress and effortlessly made me feel the pain that she was going through. Seriously, I needed some high-grade Ativan as well to calm me down after her breakdowns. 

(Although I did find it weird that Dani experienced a lot of grisly stuff yet only threw up when she witnessed her “cheating” boyfriend. Iba talaga ang effect ng pag-ibig.)

5. Happy to see The Good Place’s Chidi (William Jackson Harper) playing a variation of his geeky TV persona on the big screen. Wait, he wasn’t too smart in this one pala considering where his character (and leg) ended up.

6. When the one of the elders used the tambyolo to pick out the village’s other 90-year offering, was it a direct reference to Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery?

7. Moral of the story: Always treat your partner right or you might end up drugged inside a hollowed-out bear while burning in a cult’s yellow temple. You had been warned, Gerald Anderson.

Rating: ★★★★☆

THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (Renny Harlin, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Legend of Hercules:

1. The special effects were so bad that they used the same fake lion that mauled Eugene Domingo in Momzillas.

2. If Hercules was a demigod with extraordinary strength, then why couldn’t he kill his opponents with one blow? I know I’m overthinking. So bored.

3. Hercules won a fight and the people started throwing confetti. That scene really made me laugh out loud.

4. Kellan Lutz had saucer-sized nipples. I remembered this product I saw in Makati Cinema Square that could make one’s nipples rosy pink.

5. Lutz was a bad actor. As in Gerald Anderson level. And he loved making tampisaw in the batis. He should have Mother Lily’s magic kamison.

6. Why do people keep shouting their lines in these Greek/Roman movies? It was like the other soldiers or townspeople were deaf. Laging galit din.

7. Stay for the end credits. I think they used live goats on the soundtrack. I have no words.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 11, 2014.)

CRAZY BEAUTIFUL YOU (Mae Cruz-Alviar, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Crazy Beautiful You:

1. The movie opened with a car race straight out of The Fast and the Furious. Only Kathryn Bernardo was no Michelle Rodriguez because she would rather die than hit a stray dog. And at the rate that her car was going, how did she not even end up slamming the post?

2. Do we really allow cellphones in jail? I’m asking since I’ve never seen jail selfies. Or anyone tweeting how sad they are in solitary confinement.

3. Kathryn sounded like she had a constant cold. Every word had an additional H (“Ghive mhe bhack mhy phhone, pfowsz!”). She used to be one of my favorite local actresses but she hasn’t done anything substantial after her excellent stint in Magkaribal. She really needs to break free from this love team in the same way that the other Mara became a fully-realized actress after going solo.

4. Did the chase sequence really have to be in slow motion? Did we really need that shot of calamansi (or whatever produce) slowly fly in the air for cinematic effect? No. Just no.

5. Daniel Padilla fared much better in this movie even with his constant posturing reminiscent of uncle Robin Padilla circa ’90s. He was charming and sympathetic and yes, much cuter with his new clean-cut and borta look. More swooning expected. (He might need to bleach his teeth, though.)

6. Why do a lot of these young guys (especially the ones from ABS-CBN) shave their armpits? None of my business, but still curious.

7. The movie was so badly-lit that the actors’ faces either looked lahar-ridden or overexposed. What happened to the usual Star Cinema gloss?

8. Mini-commercials for ABS-CBN Mobile and KFC. They should have used the extra income on the movie’s photography.

9. Wait, I’ve seen this immersion movie before when it was still called Catch Me… I’m in Love with Sarah Geronimo and Gerald Anderson. And it was also directed by Mae Cruz. Have we really run out of ideas?

10. I bet Kathryn has a separate closet for all of her crop tops. Does she seriously wear anything else?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published March 1, 2015.)

HALIK SA HANGIN (Emmanuel Palo, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Halik sa Hangin:

1. The movie opened with a surprise party that must have been designed to give bit roles to lesser-known Star Magic talents and PBB teen stars. How these kids were able to rent/decorate/reach such place would be one of the movie’s biggest mysteries.

2. The LGBT community should thank Star Cinema for always supporting these gay actors playing straight roles. I suddenly remembered this network war joke that GMA actors were straight guys playing gay roles and ABS actors were the exact opposite. 

3. I was happy to see the return of Ina Raymundo. And then I felt bad for her for being part of this movie.

4. Speaking of gay actors playing straight roles, I think this was John Lapus’ best role to date. He was great as Julia Montes’ father and even played the guitar really well. Good for him!

5. Heard during a Full Moon party scene:

“Yeah party! Whoo ang saya!!”

Seriously, would self-respecting partygoer will say this?

6. Julia to Gerald Anderson: “Ang lamig mo.” His response: “Hindi mainit ka lang.”

Another reason why we should never have a Pinoy Twilight remake.

7. Gerald: “You’re MTB.”

Julia: “Meant to be?”

Gerald: “Meant to break…my heart.”

Koya, eh di MTBMH na yan!!

8. Julia looked really good onscreen. She reminded me a bit of MJ Lastimosa and I kept wondering if she had veneers. Her collaborations with director Emmanuel Palo had all been disastrous. It’s time for a new director. Or probably just better material?

9. In one scene, our heroine arrived using a Vespa. In the next scene, she was shown walking home. It’s The Case of the Disappearing Vespa.

10. Here’s the best line of the movie:

“You made me fall in love with you. You’re so unfair. Shit ka! Hindi ka buhay. Patay ka na! Patay ka na! Anong gusto mo gawin ko tumawid sa kabilang buhay para makasama ka?”

And that kids is why you shouldn’t do drugs.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published February 1, 2015.)

CAN WE STILL BE FRIENDS? (Prime Cruz, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Can We Still Be Friends?:

1. I had an overwhelming sense of dèjá vu during the opening scene with Sam (Arci Muñoz) looking bored and restless while her long-time boyfriend Digs (Gerald Anderson) was intently watching a show on TV. When she started complaining about the fact that they never really did anything else (“chill lang nang chill”) and that she wanted to do something different, I realized that I had been in this kind of relationship. I had been faulted (and eventually dumped) for the apparent lack of excitement and opting for a quiet and relaxed (ergo monotonous?) way of spending our quality time together. In the next scene, when Sam complained that they were having problems paying their bills, my inner meanie almost exploded with the thought, “Ang lakas lakas mong mag-aya wala ka naman palang pera!”

In another scene, she asked Digs to pick her up after work and she kept bugging him to hurry up. (Nagpapasundo na lang, siya pa nagmamadali?!) But wait, there’s more! When Digz finally arrived, she actually wanted him to do a u-turn so that she wouldn’t have to cross the street. She even had the gall to call him inconsiderate when he didn’t oblige. (Tatawid ka na lang gurl anubanaman!!)

Uhh, why was I so affected when this wasn’t even about me?

2. People expecting to see #TeamLablab in another Always Be My Maybe would be hugely disappointed since this was actually closer to One More Chance (they even recycled the “Pwede ba tayo na lang ulit?” line). In lieu of kilig moments, it was stuffed with mundane scenes of a couple realizing after nine years of being together that they actually hated each other. Its depiction of the breakdown of a relationship (down to petty quarrels over empty water bottles returned in the fridge) was so realistic that I wish it stayed true to the promise of a story about exes trying to maintain a post-breakup friendship.

3. Did Arci re-dub her lines? I noticed that her delivery in the actual movie was normal compared to her pabebe voice in the trailer. It was definitely a good decision because it just made her character more grounded. She was still an effective actress here and looked really gorgeous, but I wish her lips weren’t too distracting. Weirdly enough, they reminded me so much of Vibora, the talking serpent of Valentina. Star Cinema, has that role been cast already? You could thank me later.

In the end though, this was an acting showcase for Gerald who continued to display such depth and maturity in his role. I actually shed a tear in that confrontation scene when he said, “Tama ka naman eh. Hindi ako ang taong magpapasaya sa’yo.” Dear fellow Popsters, is it time to finally forgive him? (Putting my foot down on that Budoy bit though because it was more offensive than charming.)

4. That gif-worthy Magic Mike scene ooh-la-la! It was just funny though that the production couldn’t afford Ginuwine’s Pony so they had to create a Rite-Med version of the song. Still, all that grinding had me shooketh.

5. Juan Miguel Severo is officially the ultimate success story in local cinema. In every movie, his character would always end up with the cutest onscreen boyfriends (here it was Markki Stroem). I wasn’t a big fan of his spoken word poetry in On the Wings of Love and I still didn’t like how it was utilized here as part of the wedding vows. As soon as he started reciting lines like “Pipiliin kita sa araw na hindi tayo magkasundo…” in full “Oh captain, my captain!” mode, my eyes started rolling wildly in their sockets.

6. Mannequin challenge proposal? Very 2000 and late. Besides, who would take the video that they would eventually post on social media?

7. I still could not understand the couple’s decision to co-habitate after the breakup. I couldn’t even be Facebook friends with an ex agad agad. Not surprised that it led to the requisite Star Cinema happy ending. In TimeZone. Oh, TimeZone. So many memories.

8. “Kapag kaya mong maging friends sa ex mo, either mahal mo pa talaga or di mo talaga minahal.”

Nope, definitely not true. With acceptance comes maturity. Sabi nga ng Little Mix, “Shout out to my ex…you made my heart break and that made me who I am.”

Rating: ★★★☆☆