THE PANTI SISTERS (Jun Lana, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Nung napanood ko pa lang yung teaser nito (with that wonderful Dalagang Pilipina remix), na-excite na ako sobra. Based kasi sa recent baklaan films ni Jun Lana (like my favorite Die Beautiful), usually smart ang humor at hindi basta dinadaan sa typical Pinoy slapstick or lowbrow comedy na naglalaitan ng itsura (insert your chosen MMFF entry here). Sad to say, napamura na lang ako na parang si Heneral Luna habang palala nang palala ang takbo ng pelikula.

Kahit nagamit na sa trailer, benta pa rin sa ’kin yung “Sa exit ka dumaan, hindi sa entrance” scene nina Gabriel (Paolo Ballesteros) at Kat (Roxanne Barcelo). Tapos nakakaaliw na faux brand fashionista slash film lover si Samuel (Christian Bables, bringing back that fabulous Barbs vibe) bilang nakasuot siya ng Supreeme at Mosohino habang nagde-deliver ng quotes from Himala, Kaya Kong Abutin ang Langit, at It Takes a Man and a Woman. At ang cute ng datingan ni K-Pop Daniel (Martin del Rosario) lalo na nung iniiyakan niya ang kanyang Pepe.

Nakakatawa naman talaga ang ibang parts lalo na sa simula kasi maganda ang batuhan ng linya at eksenahan ng mga sizies. Yung magagaling na performances ng tatlo talaga ang nagdala ng buong movie (kasama na rin si John Arcilla as the coldhearted, homophobic father Don Emilio). Kung meron man talaga part 2 (as hinted during the end credits), sana magamit ng husto ang overflowing talents nila.

Sayang lang at mabilis naging repetitive ang jokes, from the breaking the fourth wall (na very local sitcom) to the nth Panti equals panty punchline (that also ruined a touching scene in the end). Yun ngang long table parang nagamit na sa exact same gag ng Kalyeserye (bakit sikat ang bahay ni Lola Nidora sa PPP? Ito rin ang bahay sa Circa).

Ang gulo ng transitions minsan lalo na yung sa kare-kareng kokak na napunta bigla sa abortion talk. Cute pa naman sana yung entire Moon Prism Power Make-up sequence (lalo na at ang genuine ng interactions ng magkakapatid) kaso sobrang haba ng fight scene na hindi naman nakakatawa. Buti bumawi ng slight sa hilarious “Ikaw ay Akin” mata-mata showdown.

Pero ang worst offense ng pelikula ay yung biglang naging drama sa dulo just to drive home its point. Yung feeling na parang isinasampal sa pagmumukha ng audience ang message na hindi salot ang mga bakla (kahit na may ongoing joke na nagnanasa ang Pantis sa kanilang cousins at hypocrite ang hindi aamin) at kelangan ng lahat ma-enlighten sa necessity ng SOGIE bill at gay marriage (para hindi mapilitang magpakasal ang mga bakla sa fag hags nila habang todo ang muk-up sa simbahan; pumayag si Father?). Yes, important ang topics, pero nagkulang talaga sa execution.

Anyare sa subtlety? Kulang na lang merong “Ang mga bakla na lumilipad ay mahal ng Diyos, di kumukupas…” remix.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

GOYO: ANG BATANG HENERAL (Jerrold Tarog, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral:

1. One of the first Tagalog poems I learned as a kid was taught to me by my grandfather (be forewarned, it wasn’t one of his shining moments) and it involved the bad boy of Philippine History (no, not Ace Vergel nor Robin Padilla). It went something like: “Andres Bonifacio, a-tapang a-tao. A-putok a-baril, hindi a-atakbo. A-putol a-utin, a-takbo a-tulin.” This humorous take on a national hero might sound disrespectful to some, but it was exactly how I felt with this ongoing Araling Panlipunan Trilogy of Jerrold Tarog that started with the puñeta-filled Heneral Luna.

Both films seemed to have been made as easily-digestible History nuggets because nobody really wanted to sit through a boring lecture. And so we got an abrasive, menacing portrayal of a general in the first film who would deliver some occasionally amusing Cesar Montano quips that the audience could laugh at while this second one had a subservient and confused young general who left a trail of broken hearts (and panties) like he was the first official fuccboi of the country.

2. I never knew that Gregorio del Pilar (Paulo Avelino, medyo malamya) was such a bland and uninteresting character whose life didn’t really merit a biopic. I’d always thought he was this glorious hero who took his last stand (and not a literal one) in the Battle of Tirad Pass. I’m sure there was more to him as the youngest general other than being a Don Juan.

Unfortunately, the fictional (right?) Joven Hernando (Arron Villaflor, who sounded like his testicles hadn’t descended yet) summed up the first hour best when he asked “Bakit puro romansa at panunuyo?”. It was obvious that Goyo (and in turn Avelino, with his gorgeous brown eyes that sparkled in the sunlight; wait, why wasn’t he moreno?) was so swoon-worthy that women would actually have a shade showdown while comparing themselves to mangoes (“Ako hinog, ikaw totoong bulok” or something equally icky to that effect). But shouldn’t there have been more to him than that?

I walked out of the theater with the takeaway that his only contribution in our rich history was a last minute realization that he had been Emilio Aguinaldo’s (Mon Confiado, great as always) lapdog. Yun na yun?

Seriously, Goyo the character couldn’t even serve as the crucial voiceover (read: voice of reason) in his own film.

3. I felt bad that the talented Carlo Aquino (who played Vicente Enriquez) couldn’t secure a lead role in this franchise (was it because he looked so cute and tiny like a keychain?). I did like the underlying homoerotic tension between him and Joven (because why else was he so protective of him?). And was I the only one that sensed this blooming “bromance” between Joven and Juan del Pilar (Carlo Cruz)? Ooh, a love triangle! (Or was that just some wishful thinking?)

Side note: That tampisaw sa batis scene. Not complaining at all.

4. I honestly couldn’t stand the acting of the kid that played Angelito so I wouldn’t even bother mentioning his name here. His lines consisted merely of cries of anguish/despair (“Kuyaaaaahhh!”, “Tamaaaah naaaahh!”) and he still couldn’t deliver them properly. Didn’t he learn anything from his Kuya Manuel Bernal (Art Acuña)? Awoooooo!!

5. Miss Granny reference: I was a bit disappointed that after all those pictures taken by the same photographer (Jojit Lorenzo) of the Forever Young Portrait Studio, Goyo didn’t turn into a Goyito (given his age though, if he turned fifty years younger, then he’d still be a sperm and this would have been a completely different kind of movie).

6. Bitterness 101 – Exhibit A:

Felicidad (Empress Schuck) to ex-jowa: “Kumusta?”

Goyo: “Mabuti! Ikaw?”

Felicidad: (deadma) (walk-out)

Move on, move on din pag may time. (Uso pa ba ‘to?)

7. Was the slang term “goyo” or “nagoyo” actually after the flirtatious general? I need the real etymology of this word please! My futile Google search led me to “weneklek” and “kukurikapu” instead.

8. Every peso of the movie’s reported Php160M budget was in full display here with its lush cinematography (that amazing shot of the troops marching on the mountainside during sunset, the magical Shape of Water-like underwater scene) and great production design.

9. I was excited to see the Battle of Tirad Pass especially with its dramatic twist of a local Igorot betraying the Philippine troops, but it didn’t really showcase anything interesting. It was just a lengthy sequence of some Pinoy mestiso actors pretending to be a bunch of American soldiers running around until they finally annihilated the locals. It was also odd that they continued to mine humor in such a serious situation (“Nakagat lang yan ng langgam sa bayag!”, “May bangin dyan!” and then a couple of Pinoy soldiers comically fell off a cliff, “Kam! Amerikan Welkam!”).

Even del Pilar’s death felt very anticlimactic (and un-heroic). Like a Superman film where Clark Kent never really wore his red trunks and cape because he was better off as a regular person. (But we paid to watch Superman, didn’t we?)

10. Burning questions:

• How long could one survive munching on just sugar cane? (Because you know, inflation.)

• The soldier named Daclan was actually Matt Daclan, right?

• Why couldn’t Apolinario Mabini (Epy Quizon) get his own movie? Echapwera na naman?

• During the mid-credits scene with a latex-faced, older Aguinaldo (still played by Confiado), why was the older Manuel Quezon on the poster played by a latex-faced TJ Trinidad? Were they not confident enough with the acting skills of Benjamin Alves?

• Wait, was the film trying to equate Emilio Aguinaldo with our current President? So did that make Goyo a misguided, egotistical, famewhore general who loved hogging the limelight (read: mahilig magpa-pogi)? Now I get my complete lack of interest.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆