THE DIPLOMAT HOTEL (Christopher Ad. Castillo, 2013)

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Que horror indeed.

It’s hard to believe but The Diplomat Hotel just beat Amor Y Muerte as the worst movie I’ve seen in #Cinemalaya2013, and possibly this year.

It was like The Shining. Only with everyone playing Jack Nicholson. And without the scares. Or anything that makes sense.

The hotel and its rich history would have made a great horror movie but everything was wasted. It would have been better as a Magandang Gabi Bayan Halloween special.

Let’s get this out of the way. Gretchen Barretto was horrible here. Kris Aquino could have done better and that says a lot.

The production values were awful, several scenes were out of focus, there were a lot of missing dialogue, subtitles were not in sync, etc.

The only thing scary here was that La Greta’s lovely face was barely moving.

End of rant.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published August 6, 2013.)

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MUSLIM MAGNUM .357 (Francis Jun Posadas, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Muslim Magnum .357:

1. I need to know how to paint that mustache on my face in time for this year’s Halloween. That thing deserved second billing.

2. The way Jeorge Estregan emphatically pronounced the name of Allah each and every time actually sounded sacrilegious. A lot of young guys tried to imitate it earlier and I was just happy that nobody felt offended.

3. Sam Pinto was such a horrible actress that even her screams sounded fake. How could somebody not even know how to naturally scream? She sounded dreadful and funny. She also kept tripping and hitting stuff and they didn’t look intentional. Oh, she had a great contract. No kissing scenes here.

4. The movie kept reminding us every twenty minutes of the nobility of Muslims. And then it showed Estregan virtually killing everyone in sight.

5. Jerico Estregan gave the most butch performance since Xian Lim in Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo. He further proved that the acting gene certainly didn’t run in the family.

6. Victor Basa School of Acting: dialogue, dialogue, blink, dialogue, blink, dialogue, dialogue, blink.

7. In one scene, Pinto needed an idiot board to say this line: “Kelangan ko ng 25 million pesos para pakawalan.” She was supposedly playing a smart teacher.

8. In the next scene, they played the ransom video that was completely different from what was filmed earlier. Hey, even ransom videos needed to be properly edited, right?

9. John Regala’s beard must have been so heavy that he could barely move his mouth to speak. This movie should have been subtitled Attack of the Facial Hair.

10. Ten minutes into the movie, I knew that the only way to forget this highway robbery was to give in. I laughed all my way through the two hours and twenty minutes of this utter nonsense.

11. Who could resist this classic line: “Sa oras na magkaputukan, magkakagulo ang mga tao dito.” Weh di nga?

12. Or this other classic line uttered by Roi Vinzon: “Tinyente ka pa lang, heneral na ako. Mygahd!!!!!”

13. Or the scene where a character used Google Maps to locate a person. Or the blood stains made of ketchup. Or the crazy fistfight at the end. Or the entire scene discussing the different types of Magnums.

Oh, Jeorge, you just made my night.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 7, 2015.)

CineFilipino Short Films – Set B (2018)

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CINEFILIPINO 2018 – SHORTS B

.RAW (Eugine Frondoza, 2018) – ★★★☆☆

Reminded me of two things: 1) the belief that there was a certain gloom behind these perfectly-edited pre-nup videos, and 2) my undying love for Mara Lopez. I just wish it went beyond the “love the raw and unedited version of your other half” message.

*****

GABI NG KABABALAGHAN (Stephen Lopez, 2018) – ★★★★★

My easy favorite from this set. It was a well-crafted, inspired, and wicked take on Magandang Gabi Bayan’s iconic Halloween special. Those hilarious reenactments with the White Lady were just spot-on. Best end credits sequence, too. Made me excited to see what else this director had to offer.

*****

LASINGTUNADO (Miguel Fernandez, 2018) – ★☆☆☆☆

With its corny jokes and extended fight scenes, this one felt very much like an annoying, drunk next-door neighbor who went way past the allowed 10pm videoke curfew. If only it had more of that smart Bituin Escalante reference.

*****

AMUSIN PA (Raiza Masculino, 2018) – ★★☆☆☆

Spotty Southern Tagalog accents aside, this didn’t really offer anything new to the puppy love slash coming-of-age genre. At least it had the same kid in the wonderful Ang Painting ni Tatay.

*****

DUYAN NG ALON (Kaye Banaag, 2018) – ★★★★☆

I really liked this version of Cast Away imagined through the eyes of a child. It also had some really striking visuals, including a precious shadow play sequence that I could probably watch all day.

*****

ATE, KUYA, GUSTO KONG KAPE (Mark Bayani, 2018) – ★☆☆☆☆

Even an all-“star” cast that included Epy Quizon and 90’s Most Promising Actor Jao Mapa could not save this obvious headscratcher. “Sino si Ate?” Did anyone really care?

*****

SIYUDAD SA BULAWAN (Jarell Serencio, 2018) – ★★☆☆☆

There was an underlying sadness in this story of miners (and minors) working in a city of gold, but the film ended without really saying much. It looked really good, though.

SEX AND THE CITY (Michael Patrick King, 2008)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sex and the City:

1. Unpopular opinion: I abso-fuckin’-lutely despised John James Preston aka Mr. Big (Chris Noth) and I never really pictured (fully accepted?) him as the ideal man slash husband for Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker). Except whenever I had these cyclical realizations that she was innately selfish, annoying (she wore a pearl necklace in bed!), and narcissistic so they totally deserved to end up with each other.

Nope, I definitely wasn’t a hater of the series. I had watched all six seasons so many times that I couldn’t help but wonder if I was actually a thirtysomething single New York woman in my past life.

2. It must be my inner Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) but I had always been a supporter of #TeamAidan (John Corbett) aka The One That (Luckily) Got Away. Some of my most favorite episodes involved his toxic relationship with an emotionally confused Carrie in Season 3 (All or Nothing, Running with Scissors, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell). Fans of Big would most probably come up with this argument that Aidan was a dreadfully boring choice and Carrie would just be settling with him, but the very fact that he was loyal, warm, forgiving, sincere, and understanding (plus, he obviously loved her more than she loved him) just made him the perfect boyfriend.

(Are there any fans here of Aleksandr Petrovsky? Seriously??)

3. Did we need a film version to continue the stories of our four beloved women, their beaus, and their friendly gay friends? Not really, but it was a joy to see them reunited one more time (and once more in the awful sequel). This felt like an overlong episode that basically rehashed the same old conflicts (oh, poor Carrie got her heart broken by Big yet again!), but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t cry when Charlotte screamed “No! No!” at Big after he deservedly got smashed with a wedding bouquet on the head.

4. Anybody obsessed with fashion would truly be happy with the style choices made here (even with the controversial dead bird that Carrie wore on her head for her wedding, which she winkingly mocked in a later scene). Aside from the Fashion Week sequence, there were even two (!!) montages: one with Carrie modelling fabulous wedding gowns by Vera Wang, Oscar dela Renta, and ultimately Vivienne Westwood, and another one where she was trying on her vintage clothes, including the iconic tutu that she wore in the show’s opening credits.

5. “She was a smart girl… till she fell in love.” Story of all my relationships right there.

6. Was Jennifer Hudson (as Louise) cast as an apology for the series’ apparent lack of diversity? Did the lone black woman in this version of New York really have to play Carrie’s assistant? Unfortunately her Bag, Borrow or Steal storyline had nothing going for it and she even had to deliver the most unfortunate pun (“And you gave me Louise Vuitton!”).

7. Speaking of puns, the entire Mexi-coma sequence where Carrie spent days moping in bed after a terrible breakup completely resonated with me (yes, even the one where Charlotte Poughkeepsied in her pants). The fact that her friends kept checking on her and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) even spoon-fed her some soup reminded me of how wonderful my friends were during those dark times that I was nursing a broken heart. It was fascinating to read all the dirt that these women didn’t really get along on set because they were so believable and authentic as BFFs onscreen.

(On a different note, search for the Saturday Night Live skit where Christina Aguilera had a spot-on impersonation of Samantha. Totally wicked!)

8. When Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) grabbed a witch’s mask and said that for Halloween she would just bring her suitcase and go as herself, it was something that I would totally say. Yes, if I were to take a Buzzfeed test, I would definitely be a Miranda Hobbes.

9. So Big copy/pasted some classic poems and wrote two personal lines and that was already supposed to be romantic? Please. (Laki talaga ng galit ko kay Big, no? Yes, very big. Ugh, pun!)

10. “Some love stories aren’t epic novels. Some are short stories, but that doesn’t make them any less filled with love.” Hay, completely true. At least it was comforting to know that your lovers might come and go, but your true friends would remain forever.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

THE STRANGERS (Bryan Bertino, 2008)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Strangers:

1. This might sound weird but the only time that I’d be really scared of ghosts would be 1) when somebody familiar died (also why I never looked at corpses and/or coffins), or 2) after having watched a really creepy local show/film (think Magandang Gabi Bayan’s Halloween episodes). I guess that would explain my fondness for the horror genre and my strange aversion to lights (seriously, I would rather feel my way through the darkness than flip a light switch).

It might also be a result of my mother’s constant warning of “Matakot ka sa tao, huwag sa multo”, which actually made a lot of sense especially after watching all those Carlo J. Caparas massacre movies.

2. Speaking of, my definitive home invasion film would probably be the early 90’s cult classic The Vizconde Massacre: God Help Us! that started this tasteless trend of exploiting true Pinoy crime stories as popular entertainment.

I swear I was emotionally scarred for life at the sight of Lady Lee (as the young Jenny Vizconde) getting repeatedly stabbed on the back while trying to run away from her assailant that I never forgot to check the locks of our gate every night ever since.

3. I couldn’t understand why the characters in this movie didn’t act like any normal (read: paranoid) person and just made the dumbest horror movie decisions that were blatantly mocked in Wes Craven’s Scream series (“Never, ever, under any circumstances say ‘I’ll be right back’. Because you won’t be back.”)

Kristen (an atrocious Liv Tyler who kept cooing her lines) and James (Scott Foley) were so oblivious to the dangers around them that they readily opened the front door of their remote summer home when somebody knocked at 4 AM. And even with the presence of intruders inside, they chose to hide in a room instead of run as far away from there as possible.

In one scene, Kristen even broke a lamp (to fight a possible murderer with bubog, perhaps?) rather than do the most obvious thing to increase her chances of survival which was lock the freakin’ door. Sure, people would do the craziest stuff and stop being rational in a state of panic, but it was just too hard to sympathize with them when they were basically throwing themselves at their killers.

4. I think it was a smart choice that they never really showed the faces of the killers. This made their motives vague as well and created a more haunting atmosphere (“Why are you doing this to us?” “Because you were home.”)

5. There was one chilling scene where a masked person stood silently behind Kristen and I really thought that this would hold throughout the entire film. A horror movie that didn’t rely on banging noises and cheap jump scares would have been terrific. Unfortunately, even with a slim 90 minutes runtime, it lost steam halfway through and decided to utilize the same tropes of the genre (the entire thing even ended with a scream from a supposedly dead person, pfft!).

Also, I just realized that the chilling scene that I described earlier was the exact same one that could be seen on the poster. Now you really wouldn’t have a reason to see this anymore, no?

6. Robin Williams as an obsessed stranger slash trespasser using another family’s toilet in One Hour Photo was way more disturbing than this. Watch that one instead.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

WINCHESTER (Michael & Peter Spierig, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Winchester:

1. Popularly known as “the house that spirits built”, the Winchester mansion in California looked every bit the oddity that you would expect from its ghost architects. With seven storeys and over a hundred rooms, it was meant to both please and distract the entities haunting that place. There were secret rooms, doors that led to nowhere, early intercoms that utilized pipes, thirteen (supposedly a lucky number) items in every room, and weird staircases meant to assist the house owner Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren) who was suffering from arthritis.

It was an ongoing construction for over forty years that only ceased upon Mrs. Winchester’s death. Now open for public viewing as a popular tourist spot, I would certainly want to visit the place and squeeze my brain out wondering how much staff and how long it took to actually clean the entire house. I might even bring my own bottle of Lysol.

2. Even with such an interesting history, the movie itself failed to capture the mystery surrounding the house and its occupants. It relied on the usual scare techniques that would only work on people that had never actually seen a horror film. Reflections of ghosts in a mirror, a character looking under the bed to check creaking noises, demons that peek in keyholes and in between door spaces, tired tired tired. One character mentioned that “fear is all in the mind”, but no matter how much I opened myself up to getting scared silly, it just never worked.

3. The great Mirren was the only reason why I even bothered with this. Caligula aside, I don’t think I had ever seen her in a horror movie. The closest would have to be the execrable Teaching Mrs. Tingle, which was still surprisingly much better than this one.

I seriously wish she was paid handsomely for this project because it seemed like the budget for the script was given to her instead. At least it was fun seeing her look like she was ready for Halloween 2018 as wedding belle Ivy Aguas.

4. Every time I hear “laudanum”, it would always be in the voice of Kirsten Dunst as Claudia in Interview with the Vampire, coyly telling Lestat that it “keeps the blood warm”. Hey, now that was a great horror movie! Time to revisit.

5. Oh, this also served as a propaganda flick against gun violence. One character actually mentioned that guns were evil because they were instruments of death. I found it really odd then that the ghost (no, not Charlton Heston) sought revenge by using a rifle. In turn, he was vanquished back to the afterlife after getting shot. So anti-gun laws or what?

6. Wait, was the falling nail during the final scene audaciously even hinting at a possible sequel? Que horror!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

BABY DRIVER (Edgar Wright, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Baby Driver:

1. That coffee shop scene early in the film where the barista smirked when Ansel Elgort said that his name was Baby reminded me of the time when I used to work as a manager for a customer service account in a call center. One of my basic tasks was to ensure that each associate got assigned an “appropriate”-sounding call name. The uniquely cool ones like Baby Juice or Shangri-La or Miracle Boy had to be changed into more “pleasant-sounding” generic nicknames. We also couldn’t use real names that sounded like terms of endearment such as Love, Sweetheart, Honey, and yes, just Baby (even if a quarter of our population probably used this as a name/nickname) lest callers began thinking that they actually dialled a phone sex hotline.

On a different note, I was so hooked on that B-A-B-Y song that I wanted to jump in my Subaru, put on my Wayfarer, and play that song on blast while driving around Commerce Ave. (okay, done with my social-climbing exercise for the day).

2. A lot of people would most likely look like an idiot doing that swaying dance routine with the windshield wipers, but Ansel had the right amount of charm to make it just the cutest thing ever. I could probably watch that one long continuous take of him singing and dancing during a coffee run on a loop for days. (Bonus na lang that he could also prepare a mean sandwich. Mukhang masarap sya.)

3. Aside from Monsters Inc. (“You and I are a team”), I was happy to see the references on my other faves here, like It’s Complicated, Fight Club, and The Little Rascals (although I still preferred the version of Alfalfa with his cowlick singing You Are So Beautiful to dear Darla).

4. Those impressive car stunts that could rival the ones in the Fast & Furious series! As if this movie wasn’t even cool and stylish enough already. More nganga lang ako. And that whole Tequila shoot-out. Worth the price of admission.

5. I knew that Jamie Foxx could not be trusted as soon as he showed up wearing that tacky King of Hearts sweater. I would rather trust that “puts the Asian in home invasion” guy even if he didn’t know the difference between Austin Powers’ Mike Meyers and Halloween’s Michael Meyers (or even Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees). Also, seeing those masks reminded me so much of the Betty Doll Bank Robbers from the underrated Sugar & Spice. Time for a rewatch.

6. Sorry Edgar Wright, but Prime Cruz beat you (twice!) on that colorful laundromat scene.

7. I had a bit of a problem with the last act when everything just went awry and people started growing a conscience. And inasmuch as I adored Debora (Lily Collins), I wasn’t completely sold on the romance and the idea that they fell in love even before their second date.

8. Baby cleverly used music to drown out the terrible memories of a traumatic event in his life. That definitely wouldn’t work with me since my playlist would mostly be weepies by Celine Dion and Sarah Geronimo huhuhu.

Rating: ★★★★☆

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Bill Condon, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Beauty and the Beast:

1. Similar to A Second Chance, this live action remake of the classic Disney movie was completely harmless and unnecessary. Lower your pitchforks (or eyebrows), please. Inasmuch as I’m sure you would want to launch into your own glorious rendition of Kill the Beast right about now, hear me out first.

The movie was satisfactory. The cast was mostly fine. The new songs were generally okay (although a tad forgettable). Bring your kids (or your inner kid at heart) and wallow in the amazing feeling of nostalgia.

Just never forget that you’re watching a film directed by the same person that most recently gave us The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Parts 1 and 2. (Fade to black.)

2. I never expected a shot-by-shot remake of the cartoon, but I also didn’t see the need for forty additional minutes of filler to explain the stories behind the Prince’s bad behaviour, Belle’s dead mother, and the Enchantress’ double life in the village, among others. You could immediately feel the difference as soon as this one started with the stained glass sequence in the original losing its storybook effect by having the Prince in full Black Swan make-up partying like Lindsay Lohan on a Friday night.

Even with all the back stories, it still wasn’t able to justify why the poor servants had to be included in the curse (and no Mrs. Potts, indirect negligence of an abused child was not reason enough for such a cruel punishment). I did like the explanation on why nobody really bothered checking on the castle post-curse and that was achieved through one line of narration.

3. If anything, this version posed even more questions:

• Given these recent historical revisionisms regarding inventors (read up on Bell vs Meucci haller!), should we assume that Belle actually created the first washing machine? Also, whatever happened to those bedsheets that she tied up for her planned escape?

• Who was that toothless piano (played by Stanley Tucci)? Was he part of the Broadway production (I swear I couldn’t remember that character in the cartoon)? Also, why wasn’t Mrs. Potts talking out of her spout? She ended up looking more inanimate here.

• If her mother really loved roses, then why was she even named Belle? Why not Rose or Rosita or Rosa? (So happy my mom was never fond of champaka.)

• Speaking of, when she brought back that rose heirloom and gave it to Maurice, wouldn’t that make him patient zero for another bubonic plague/outbreak?

4. Sorry bashers, but Emma Watson actually had a decent singing voice (regardless of Auto-Tune). My concern though was that she still acted very much like Hermione in a grand Hogwarts production of Beauty and the Beast. I even had lots of fun imitating her very British accent in provincial France (“Puh-paww!!”, “That’s ab-suhd!”).

The bigger surprise here was Luke Evans, a perfect casting choice for Gaston (no one even falls like Gaston!). I loved every moment he had with LeFou (played by Josh Gad, who should be in every Disney movie moving forward).

5. Poll question of the day: Did you like Dan Stevens as the Beast? Or more accurately, was he the Prince that you were expecting? Some people (cough, cough) wanted to kill me for laughing during the big reveal post-Beast transformation. My reaction was more of “Ehh” and I wanted it to be more of “Huwow!”. It certainly was no Devon Sawa moment in Casper.

I could understand Dan’s charms in a Benedict Cumberbatch way, but I really expected someone conventionally great-looking. Given the extensive use of motion capture in his Beast performance, he could have been replaced by Andy Serkis (yup, Gollum) and they could have gotten someone physically resembling Prince Charming.

6. When Belle ran up the hill and the camera started swirling around her, did the Sound of Music theme play in your head as well?

7. One of my favorite lines in the movie was from Plumette: “I grew three more feathers and I just plucked yesterday.” Story of my life right there.

8. Where was the openly gay character in the movie? A couple of people asked me if this was appropriate for kids, especially since the issue had been blown out of proportion. Fear not parents, there was no gay kissing or gay sex scene (this was still a Disney film after all).

Actually, there wasn’t even any mention of a character being out and proud. If anything, this should open up a whole new discussion on how Disney’s milking the gay uproar (vis a vis them proudly proclaiming the inclusion of a gay character) when there was none to begin with.

Everything pertaining to homosexuality was actually played for laughs (even that controversial blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dance). That was even more disappointing than the states and countries that banned the movie. Where was the hyped progressivism, Disney?

9. Be Our Guest was my favorite sequence in the original and it felt a bit messy here (even more distracting in 3D/4DX with the constant seat movements and excessive flashing lights). The iconic dance scene was fine (hearing the wonderful theme did give me serious goosebumps) and I kinda liked the yellow dress even if it resembled the Halloween version being sold in Toy Kingdom. But why did they have to remove the romantic dinner? I also missed the swoon-worthy scenes of her blatantly teaching him how to dance and putting her head on his hairy chest. All we got here were those excessive shots of low-hanging chandeliers. Hay.

10. This movie still begged that age-old question though: Is it superficial if a woman falls for a man with a huge, uhm, library?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

ILAWOD (Dan Villegas, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ilawod:

1. For me, Pinoy horror stories with their local settings, deeply-rooted mythologies, and fascinating folklore would always be much scarier than any Hollywood flick. Whereas Linda Blair and her spinning head made me cackle with glee, I almost peed my pants when Manilyn Reynes was stalked by a horde of aswangs led by Vangie Labalan. I could never picture Valak looking at me through a mirror, but I could easily imagine that dead nun killed during the Bataan Death March in the Magandang Gabi Bayan Halloween episode staring right at me from outside my bedroom window. This must be all coming from my childhood belief that Count Dracula and every other foreign monster would never even bother taking a 21-hour flight to the Philippines.

2. I really tried to like this movie especially since I was easily drawn to the very Pinoy story of the Ilawod, a water elemental living in streams known to dominate human bodies and suck the souls out of them (the name itself literally means downstream). Unfortunately, it wasn’t able to differentiate itself from other horror movies with genre tropes that included an exorcism and possession.

There was a scene with a kid drawing black rings that could have been an early promo for the new Rings sequel. The real face of the Ilawod looked like a monster from Pan’s Labyrinth. The elevator footage eeriely resembled that viral video with Elisa Lam (Google it!). Even the haunting scenes involving water (dripping from the ceiling, puddles on the floor) in the condominium seemed to have been borrowed heavily from Hideo Nakata’s Dark Water.

3. In the opening scene, an old lady was possessed by the Ilawod and when she saw Ian Veneracion (playing a daddy daddy beat reporter), her long pointed tongue started flailing like crazy and my very first thought was, “Why wouldn’t it?” Veneracion just didn’t age since his Anak ng Demonyo days and I could easily see hordes of women and gay men doing the exact same thing when they see him in person, with or without spirit possession. (Where did you find the Fountain of Youth, Ian? Tell us please!!)

4. I might have missed it, but I couldn’t understand why the Ilawod got really mad at Ian and wanted to exact revenge on him and his family aside from the fact that he didn’t believe in the supernatural. I’d rather assume that she was just being bitter for getting rejected by a hottie.

5. I kinda felt bad for Therese Malvar since she’s currently one of the best young actresses in Philippine cinema and she got stuck playing an elemental with heavy makeup and a brushed-up wet look hairdo while sporting Mother Lily’s magic white kamison. I also couldn’t believe that Ian’s teenage son never once bothered to ask why she never changed outfits or why she was always making tambay by the poolside.

6. Speaking of teenagers, I was really shocked at how much Xyriel Manabat has grown. Her transformation made me feel even more old. But wait, why didn’t she look like any of her parents (the mother was played by Iza Calzado)?

In one hilarious scene, she was attacked by the Ilawod so she ran to her parents’ bedroom but the door remained locked. Her parents kept knocking and pulling on the knob but the door just wouldn’t budge. In her state of panic, Iza then asked the most logical question: “Ano na bang nangyayari sa mga anak natin?” HUH?!!

At least after that incident, she regained her bearings and got the services of Father Pnoy to bless their unit.

7. With its blatant sexualization of kids, I was surprised that the movie still took the safer, more sanitized route. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t suggesting a love scene, but I would have preferred it if not everything (even just a simple kiss) were merely suggestive. Nothing wrong with a horror movie making people squirm in their seats and making them feel uncomfortable.

8. If the Undin made me stay away from the sea, this one made me reconsider making tampisaw in a batis.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

WANTED: PERFECT MOTHER (Ike Jarlego, Jr., 1996)

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My notes on Wanted: Perfect Mother:

1. A strict father slash widower in need of someone to discipline his brats, er, kids hires a singing tutor slash nanny that teaches them the power of love, kindness, and respect through various song and dance production numbers.

Yes, this was The Sound of Music with Regine Velasquez sporting a faux-hawk and heart choker instead of a nun’s habit.

2. So much had changed in terms of child-rearing within the last few decades. There were several scenes here where adults would use force to make the children follow their will (e.g. the yaya played by Tita Winnie Cordero would grab and pull a young girl who didn’t want to go to school). Today, these things would easily fall under child abuse (hello Bantay Bata!). Our elders were able to get away with a lot back then, no?

3. The dad (played by Christopher de Leon, naturally) felt the need to look for a mother to his kids because: a) he didn’t know what tie would match his suit, b) he always woke up to the sound of his kids screaming their lungs out, c) as one of his friends put it, “Kelangan mo maghanap ng matinong babae na mag-aalaga sa’yo”. Which all begged the question, did he really need a spouse or a maid?

(No wonder Tita Shawie threw a bitch fit in Madrasta: “You’re absolutely right. Yan lang ang tingin mo sa akin. Taga-handa ng isusuot mo, ng kakainin mo. Taga-ayos sa bahay mo. Taga-salo sa mga problema mo.” I guess some things never changed.)

4. One of the best things in watching these old movies was a look back at the fashion during that time. Some of my favorite looks here were the mosaic top and black leather pants (and the perennial heart choker, of course) worn by Regine in the audition scene, the black baby doll dress with zippered red lips on the breast area matched with tattered tights (her idea of sexy when the bar manager said that her show needed “konting landi”), the high-waisted pants worn by the guys (with the belt area way above the belly button), and Bobby Andrews’ head scarf which looked like a cross between Ms. Celia Rodriguez and Madam Auring. Noted for next year’s Halloween.

5. Bing Loyzaga (who else?) played the wicked third party signaled by the dark eye shadow that covered the entirety of her eyelids (as if her flaring nostrils weren’t a giveaway). She was supposedly the evil one because she was cultured (she took the kids to a museum and they found her entire explanation on national painters really boring), she had pit stains in one scene, and she got mad when the kids wanted her to peel the shrimp for them (also, when they requested for sukang may bawang as a substitute for lemon butter sauce). Apparently, the fondness for art and the idea of independence was too elitist and therefore not mother material.

6. There were so many unintentionally hilarious lines in the movie but these were my favorites:

• “Bakit ka bibili ng alarm clock eh sa gabi naman ang trabaho mo?” (Collective groan from BPO associates.)

• “Miss Barubal! Miss Barubal!!” (Regine calling her landlady because that was her actual name.)

• “Kilala mo ba si Mickey Mouse? Diba lagi siyang hinahabol ng pusa?” (Huh? Sino? Si Hello Kitty?)

• “Ang alam ko sa butter palaman lang yan sa tinapay eh.” (Another point against lemon butter sauce.)

• “Ang trabaho mo tutor lang meaning glorified alalay.” (That’s why it’s always important to check the job description before applying.)

7. Do you still remember Kim delos Santos? Raven Villanueva? Mumay Santiago? Graciaaa? Welcome to the oldies club!

8. There was one touching moment when the kids were talking about their fears of somebody replacing their real mom. The youngest one even cried, “Sana hindi na lang kinuha ni God si Mommy.” So many realistic issues here that could have been explored in a much better movie (see Madrasta).

9. I loved how Regine was like the Pied Piper who turned tantrum-throwing brats into obedient angels with just her magical voice, all the problems vanishing after every musical number. One rendition of You Are My Song (of course I sang along) resolved all the issues and they lived happily ever after.

10. Oh, and the movie’s last line was Christopher asking Regine to change her blue nail color. To match her pink maid’s uniform, perhaps?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆