MOVIE REVIEW: SO IT’S YOU (Jun Lana, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on So It’s You:

1. Was this movie shot in high-definition? The camera was so unforgiving to JC de Vera.

2. Since when was Fernbrook located in Ayala Alabang Village?

3. I think the lead character’s family was supposed to be nouveau riche with their gaudy clothes and furniture. One family’s expensive was another man’s tacky.

4. I wasn’t sure how Carla Abellana’s character ended up as product specialist (or as the character said, “med rep”). Shouldn’t she be running her family’s business and leave all the hard work to us middle class people? Besides, with those excessive accessories, bejeweled iPad, and leopard print clothes, who’d even take her seriously?

5. The movie tried too hard to be current with all of its technological and social media references. It was the first time for me to hear the phrase “Peksman walang delete” and it made me love the icky “Boom panes” more. (Although I think one character mentioned, “May nagtweet sa IG” and I wasn’t even sure how that worked.)

6. The family’s shoe business reminded me of my favorite sapatero, Ms. Laida Magtalas, of course.

7. How could a supposedly rich girl who loved branded items and drove a car covered with the Louis Vuitton logo not even know Manolo Blahnik? It was a good thing she was schooled by her gay BFF (of course!).

8. Kevin Santos and Paolo Ballesteros were the reasons to watch this mess. The former especially was so into his character that I wished he just had a movie of his own. Amparo Munoz would be proud of him.

9. Warning: Don’t use your cellphone while driving. Especially if it’s chunky and as big as a tablet. Wait, maybe it was an actual tablet.

10. I could do a mean impression of Tom Rodriguez. Seriously. With this and Bekimon, I think I’ve mastered his expressions.

11. To be fair, I really liked the scene where Carla imagined how her dream wedding would have been. It was funny but heartbreaking. Now if only the movie had more of that and less of the Instagram selfies.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published May 11, 2014.)

CONCERT REVIEW: THE HONEYMOON TOUR (Ariana Grande, 2015)

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My notes on The Honeymoon Tour:

1. The MoA Arena was packed with screaming teen girls that I felt a bit irresponsible for bringing a cup of whiskey inside. I, along with very supportive parents, also probably raised the median age of the audience to 19.

2. Ariane Grande looked great in her trademark ponytail and Louboutin boots. She kicked off the night with Bang Bang and the crowd just went wild.

3. I’m happy to report that they didn’t allow iPads inside the arena. I still felt sad though that some girls would rather record the whole thing rather than dance and enjoy the concert. I swear one girl barely moved to prevent her video from shaking while I was going crazy dancing (and I use this term very loosely) to Hands on Me.

4. The crowd was too young to actually appreciate the Chaka Khan/Whitney Houston and Madonna medley of I’m Every Woman and Vogue. The parents truly loved that bit.

5. Except for 3 huge screens and the band, the stage was really bare. It was definitely no Katy Perry production. But I guess Ariana didn’t really have to compensate for anything.

6. Not a lot of costume changes, too. I think she had three outfits all throughout with a multitude of animal ears headbands.

7. Kathryn Bernardo (and her posse) pulled a Doris Bigornia and rushed to the very front of the stage as soon as the concert started and she was allowed to stay there because well, she’s the Teen Queen Kathryn Bernardo. At least Kim Chiu and Liza Soberano had the decency to stay in their seats. (But why am I complaining when I had Lower Box seats? Good seats btw. Get the ones on the far left/right of the stage and they’re actually closer than the back end Patron seats.)

8. It really paid off that I memorized her My Everything album prior to the show. I missed her Yours, Truly songs so I took a pee break (it’s a huge cup!) while everyone lit their cellphones on Tattooed Heart. Since I was already outside, I bought another cup for good measure. I gained a friend that night with Ate bartender.

9. Ariana’s voice was flawless last night. She sang Whitney’s I Have Nothing (no David Foster on the piano, though) and she didn’t miss a single note. She was so good that even if the screen behind her projected a fan that didn’t know the lyrics singing her heart out, it still couldn’t ruin the moment.

10. Most of the teen girls cheered whenever Ariana gyrated on stage and suggestively rubbed herself on her male dancers. My brain was in full oldie mode (“Ang mga kabataan talaga ngayon…”). Oh, and Andrea Brillantes was there as well as part of Kathryn’s posse.

11. The tap dancing intermission guy should get a much deserved bonus for trying his darn best to keep the momentum going while Ariana prepped for her next number. It barely worked but at least he tried.

12. When she started belting out Break Free one notch higher, I immediately knew that her voice was much better than Mariah’s in her prime. (Dear Lambs, please don’t kill me.)

13. If I had one complaint about the concert, it was really short and definitely bitin. It lasted an hour and a half although she was able to cover around twenty songs that included Best Mistake, Be My Baby, One Last Time, Love Me Harder and the encore Problem. I could listen to her all night. Then again, with that kind of energy and consistent belting, she’ll probably pass out after two hours.

14. People were carrying boxes of Krispy Kreme. For real.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published August 24, 2015.)

 

MOVIE REVIEW: JOHN DENVER TRENDING (Arden Rod Condez, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on John Denver Trending:

1. Kumusta na kaya si Amalayer Girl? Nung 2012 pa pala nag-viral yung video niya ng paninigaw sa isang security guard sa LRT Santolan station. Alala ko noon na ang daming bwiset na bwiset sa kanya (kabilang na ako). Siguro kasi iniisip natin kadalasan na maarte kapag pa-English English ang isang Pinoy. O siguro kasi ang feeling natin sa kanya eh mababa ang tingin niya sa mga blue-collar workers. O kaya kasi mahilig lang tayo mang-down ng ibang tao to make us feel better about ourselves. Yung lagi tayong tama, mabuti at busilak ang kalooban at yung mga nasa viral videos na yan eh deserve ang bullying kasi masasama ang ugali.

Napakadali para sa atin mag-judge ng iba habang nakatago sa harap ng mga computer at phone screens. Attack agad lahat ng keyboard warriors (aka toxic kuyog culture) kahit di pa alam kung ano ang totoong story. Puro mura, puro pintas, minsan may death threats pa na kasama di lamang sa taong involved kundi pati sa pamilya nito. Nakakalungkot na ganito tayo ngayon sa panahon ng social media.

(And sobrang hypocritical lang na ang sunod na posts ng iba eh Bible quotes or suicide prevention hotlines. Puh-lease!)

2. Medyo similar ang nangyari kay Amalayer at sa bida dito na si John Denver (Jansen Magpusao). Pinagbintangan siya ng mga kaklase niya na nagnakaw ng iPad pero ang nahagip lang ng video eh nung binubugbog na niya ang kanyang classmate. In-upload ng isang mokong sa Facebook (“PASIKATIN NATIN ANG GAGONG TO… LIKE AND SHARE HANGGANG UMABOT KAY TATAY DIGONG!”) bago tuluyang mag-viral. Umikot ang buong pelikula sa epekto ng cyberbullying kay John Denver at kung paano nito sinira ang buhay niya at ng kanyang pamilya.

3. Malinis ang pagkakalahad ng story. Nagustuhan ko na kahit ang daming not-so-subtle hints na hindi siya ang nagnakaw (yung charger na lang ang naiwan sa classroom nung pumasok siya, yung bag niya na hinalughog, yung mga construction workers na padaan-daan sa mga eksena), bilang manonood mapapaisip ka pa rin hanggang dulo kung kinuha ba niya talaga ang lecheng iPad na yan.

Lumabas ang pagiging judgmental ko lalo na at hindi naman siya ulirang kabataan. Napaka-flawed ng character niya (ang lakas ng tawa ko nung inalaska niya ang isang classmate na hindi naman memorized ang Lord’s Prayer) kaya may second thoughts pa rin kung maaawa ka sa pinagdaraanan niya.

4. Inspired ang casting kay Jansen lalo na at hindi siya trained actor. Bumagay yung rawness ng performance niya dun sa innocence ng character. Ang lakas ng star quality niya sa big screen. May ilang eksena lamang na medyo pilit ang emosyon (para sa akin kinulang siya dun sa crucial scene na tinakpan niya ang mukha niya para humagulgol) pero bawing-bawi kapag natural lang ang batuhan niya ng mga linya with his mother (Meryll Soriano). Yung itsura nung mukha niya dun sa ilog pagkatapos dumugo ang ulo ng nanay niya, sobrang sakit sa loob panoorin. Ramdam yung guilt sa lahat ng nangyayari kaya di nakakagulat yung choice niya sa dulo.

5. Pero grabe halimaw din si Meryll sa actingan. Sa sobrang huge fan ako ni Maricel Soriano eh napaisip talaga ako dito kung mas magaling pa siya sa auntie niya. Nung andun sila sa principal’s office tapos sinabi niya yung line na parang “Eh bakit kayo naman, sir. Kung sabihin ko na may shabu ang brief n’yo, ibababa nyo ba?” gusto ko mag-standing ovation sa sinehan. At nung sinabi sa kanya na may record ng violations (including theft) ang anak niya na di niya alam, para akong si John Denver na gusto ko na lang matunaw sa kinauupuan ko. Ultimo pagpunas niya lang ng pawis sa mukha after pagsasampalin ang anak eh sobrang nuanced. Napakahusay!!

Ang minor quibble ko lang ay yung spotty accent niya. Although na-explain naman na hindi siya tubong Antique, ang obvious lang kasi nung disconnect ng pagsasalita niya sa kanyang anak. May isang beses pa na nahaluan niya ng “so” ang sinasabi niya kaya medyo na-distract ako sa eksena kasi out of character.

6. Wala lang yun sa dami ng scenes na tumagos talaga sa puso ko (meaning more ngawa ako diba) lalo na kapag naka-focus sa simple moments nilang mag-ina. Naiiyak pa rin ako kapag naiisip yung part na sinubuan niya ng flower icing ang nanay niya matapos siya tawaging “animal!” (ang ganda ng pasok ng haunting score dito huhu). Bulakbol siya pero sweet naman pala. A few seconds lang pero ang daming sinabi tungkol sa kanila at sa kanilang relationship.

Pati yung tahimik silang naglalakad sa may dalampasigan tapos bakas sa mukha ni nanay yung frustration, embarrassment, at disappointment pero mahal na mahal pa rin nya ang anak niya kaya nasasaktan siya para dito. Durog na durog ako dun.

7. Maganda yung paggamit ng symbolisms dito. Yung mantsa sa uniform niya na kahit anong kuskos niya ay hindi matanggal. Parang Scarlet Letter lang na naka-tattoo sa noo niya na nagsusumigaw na “MAGNANAKAW!”. Yung kahit anong explain at defend niya sa sarili eh wala naman naniniwala at tuluyan nang nabahiran ang reputasyon at buong pagkatao niya. Tapos nung flag ceremony siya lang talaga ang namumukod-tangi na hindi gumamit ng Tide kaya nag-stand out ang naninilaw niya na suot.

Maganda rin yung juxtaposition na ginamit sa power of chismis lalo na dun sa kapitbahay na sinasabing aswang. Minsan mas malala pa sa bala ng baril ang mga salitang lumalabas sa isip at bunganga ng mga tao.

8. Nakakangalit yung entire investigation process ng mga pulis. Naalala ko tuloy yung isang eksena sa Pamilya Ordinaryo na tungkol din sa police brutality. Grabe yung feeling ng helplessness kapag talaga person in authority ang nang-ha-harass sa isang tao. Nakakatakot kapag naka-uniporme ang demonyo.

9. Sa dami ng eksenang naglalakad siya, ang ganda nung biglang tumakbo si John Denver off-path. Malaman. Kaya siguro sobrang polarizing din ng ending nito. For me, justified naman siya sa context ng theme. Hindi siya nagmukhang cop-out. Mas nag-resonate pa nga ang perils ng social media dahil sa powerful scene na yun. Kapag ramdam mo na sobrang squirmish ang mga katabi mo sa sinehan dahil sa pinapanood nila, alam mo na malakas ang effect nito. Hindi nila makakalimutan ang nakita. Para na rin niyang sinabi na in essence, lahat tayo ay guilty sa pagpatay kay John Denver.

10. Yung isa sa pinaka-paborito kong eksena sa Philippine Cinema 2019 ay nung tahimik na kumakain ang pamilya nila ng Cloud 9 sa pilapil. Malayo sa gulo ng mundo, hiwalay sa ingay ng social media. Sa panahong ito ng Digital Age, hindi kaya yan ang pinakamainam para sa ating lahat?

Rating: ★★★★★