BUHAY HABANGBUHAY (Paolo Herras, 2016)

4C85EB66-7267-422B-9F73-62FF55DECB16

A dark comedy about a pesky ghost that just wouldn’t move on. I could see its rich comic book beginnings, but it just didn’t successfully translate to the big screen. Although filled with some great images, it was oftentimes baffling, with bad special effects and a waste of a talented cast.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published March 17, 2016.)

BLISS (Jerrold Tarog, 2017)

6A8DCAD0-3D84-4A6F-B79B-CE8683F42114

What the eff did I just watch?!

I’m not sure if it was the brutal similarity to the disturbing relationship of Sarah and Mommy Divine or the blatant homage to one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations, but I really liked this messed up film.

Iza Calzado was excellent as always and the entire ensemble cast that included pure a-hole TJ Trinidad, the hilariously pretentious director Audie Gemora and the divine (wink, wink) Shamaine Buencamino was great as well. The standout though was Adrienne Vergara whose mere laugh made me giggle like crazy in my seat.

P.S. Don’t expect a traditional horror movie, especially since real life nowadays is proving to be so much scarier.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published May 10, 2017.)

STARTING OVER AGAIN (Olivia Lamasan, 2014)

D95B4F1F-F3DB-4140-AD35-F83DFBF8715B

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Starting Over Again:

1. With a better treatment (and alternate ending), this could have been a great Star Cinema, feel-bad Pinoy movie. It might have been predictable and clunky, but it did have some really good lines and realistic scenes of heartbreak.

2. Toni Gonzaga (as Patty) was effortlessly funny, although she struggled a bit in her dramatic scenes. (Side note: She needs to have her legs insured. They looked amazing and she knew just how to accentuate them.)

As Marco, Piolo Pascual just didn’t seem to exert any effort at all. Was I the only one annoyed by his excessive use of the word “diba” in that confrontation scene? It didn’t help that he sounded more bitchy than hurt. (At least he fared much better in his silent crying scenes.)

3. In all my years of travelling to and from Alabang, I’ve never taken an actual train. Especially since there are hundreds of buses and jeepneys and shuttle services that will drop you in South Station or Metropolis/StarMall. Where is this train and where are its stops?

On a related note, my favorite scene in that sequence was that of Patty getting off a moving bus. It was just too hilarious. And it elicited the expected reactions from the very amused crowd.

4. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Iza Calzado is a brilliant actress. I loved how calm and collected she was during Patty’s confrontation scene with Ginny. Her restraint showed the maturity of her character and her nuanced performance made that scene even more powerful. She also had the best lines in the movie. I wonder why she’s not given the projects she deserves.

5. “A relationship should have the right ingredients: love, trust, and an allowance for mistakes. Love is greater than someone’s failures. In love there is no fear.”

I bawled my eyes out.

And Patty’s line about their non-romantic love:

“Our love may be quiet and boring, but it’s sure.”

Shet. Pass me the tissues.

6. If I were in this movie, I would be Beb played by the dependable Cai Cortez (ok, insert the fat joke here). But really, I saw myself in her character. I would be that one friend who wouldn’t mince words no matter how brutal the message would be; that one friend who would offer you a hug then slap you back to reality.

7. I will forever use these memorable lines in future drinking sessions with relapsing friends:

“Yang hope na yan, lason yan. Parang drugs, nakaka-adik.”

“Adik ka na naman sa pag-asa. Try mo kaya lumaklak ng realidad.”

8. Why do we have this growing trend in local movies where seemingly smart women beg other women to lend or give up their boyfriends/husbands? Icky.

I’m happy to see though that the “third wheel” here wasn’t made to look like a devil in the last act just to justify the break-up and possible happy ending for the leads. Patty was really nice and giving and there was just no reason for Marco not to love her. In fact, she did look like Mama Mary.

9. And here’s my message to all my exes (parang ang dami): “I can never un-love you. I just love you in a different way now.” (Sob.)

10. I really hated that wood-crashing scene. It felt straight out of a Wenn Deramas movie. Worst possible deus ex machina.

11. After Forever and a Day, I wonder if Star Cinema will ever have the balls again to end films the way they really should.

I’m sure a lot of people loved the cameos and they felt the need to give its audience a hopeful ending. In real life though, it would take years before Ginny will get over Marco, more years for her to pick up the pieces, and even more years to finally meet the right one. (And that’s already being hopeful.)

12. If the movie ended with Ginny deleting the message and the camera panning out showing Ginny ready to move on with the swelling theme song in the background, I would probably have rated this higher. Maybe they’ll consider that for the DVD? For all the Bebs out there, please?

P. S. Two girls in front of us were taking selfies (with flash) during the closing credits so I gave one of them “sungay”. Made them stop.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published February 14, 2014.)

METRO MANILA FILM FESTIVAL 2019 SCORECARD

E531B48F-3BE6-43CA-9156-355BBCA91A14

Best Feature-Length Film

1. WRITE ABOUT LOVE (Crisanto Aquino) – ★★★★☆
2. MINDANAO (Brillante Mendoza) – ★★★☆☆
3. MIRACLE IN CELL NO. 7 (Nuel Naval) – ★★★☆☆
4. SUNOD (Carlo Ledesma) – ★★☆☆☆
5. CULION (Alvin Yapan) – ★★☆☆☆
6. MISSION UNSTAPABOL: THE DON IDENTITY (Michael Tuviera) – ★★☆☆☆
7. THE MALL, THE MERRIER (Barry Gonzalez) – ★☆☆☆☆
8. 3POL TROBOL: HULI KA BALBON! (Rodel Nacianceno) – ★☆☆☆☆

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

1. ROCCO NACINO (Write About Love)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

1. JUDY ANN SANTOS (Mindanao)
2. MILES OCAMPO (Write About Love)
3. CARMINA VILLARROEL (Sunod)
4. IZA CALZADO (Culion)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

1. JC SANTOS (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
2. JOEM BASCON (Write About Love)
3. JOHN ARCILLA (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
4. ALLEN DIZON (Mindanao)
5. JOJIT LORENZO (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
6. JOEL TORRE (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
7. MON CONFIADO (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
8. SOLIMAN CRUZ (Miracle in Cell No. 7)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

1. MERYLL SORIANO (Culion)
2. KRYSTAL BRIMNER (Sunod)
3. YUNA TANGOG (Mindanao)
4. JASMINE CURTIS-SMITH (Culion)

Until next year!!

CULION (Alvin Yapan, 2019)

1165DE3A-DB7E-4F4A-B646-822BEE554431

Very disappointing, especially since I’m a lowkey fan of Yapan’s films. Yung kahit di ko masyado maintindihan ang poeticism/lyricism/symbolism (at lahat ng -ism) sa mga pelikula niya, lutang naman ang artistry at craftsmanship. Nawawala yun dito.

Maliban sa dalawang creative choices (yung dream sequences ni Jasmine Curtis-Smith at yung goosebumps-worthy kidlat scene sa dulo), iisipin mo na si Joel Lamangan ang nag-direct nito. Daming gustong sabihin pero walang pinatunguhan. Sobrang kalat.

Sayang kasi andito ang mga acting greats ng Pinoy cinema (Jasmine, Iza Calzado, and Meryll Streep-Soriano). Bonus pa yung much-hyped cameo ni John Lloyd Cruz. Nagtitigan lang sila ni Meryll pero dalang-dala ako sa eksena. (Please come out of retirement!!)

Ang pakiramdam nung over two hours na runtime ng pelikula ay para kang nagbabasa ng History book. Alam mo na may sinasabing importante pero sobrang bagot. Tatlo na nga lang kami na nanuod tapos ang sarap pa ng tulog nung magkayakap na mag-jowa sa harapan ko.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MADILIM ANG GABI (Adolf Alix, Jr., 2018)

D3CCF15B-7F7E-4830-8AE8-A74D8587F2E1

SPOILER ALERT!!

Poverty porn? War on drugs? Shaky cam? The only reason why this wasn’t a Brillante Mendoza film was because of its anti-DDS view. In lieu of the infamous fishball scene of Ma’ Rosa, this had Gina Alajar (great as always) eating a bowl of kwek kwek.

I spent majority of the time shouting the name of every celebrity that showed up every few minutes for their 30-second cameo. Zanjoe Marudo! Laurice Guillen! Iza Calzado! Flora Gasser!! Divine Tetay!!!

If the message of the movie wasn’t obvious enough, a character had to state “Masama na ang panahon. Sana nakikinig sila. Hindi hayop ang pinatay nila: isang anak, kapatid, mahal sa buhay, kamag-anak!!” Wew.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 15, 2018.)

PANDANGGO SA HUKAY (Sheryl Rose Andes, 2019)

75A92C60-6252-41FA-8400-94DBD6E423A0

SPOILER ALERT!!

Naawa lang ako kay Iza Calzado dito. Sobrang committed niya sa role kahit biglang pinag-shinger siya habang pinapanood si Bembol Roco (may fetish si Elena sa kalbo?) pagkatapos ginawang joke time ang rape niya.

Ganda na nung simula na parang a day in the life of a midwife tapos biglang nagkalat sa second half na may kidnapping arc ng Etibak Gang. As in super kalat. Yung mapapaisip ka paano nanalo ng Palanca award ang screenplay eh nothing really made sense sa pinaggagawa ng mga characters.

Gusto pa ata ng pelikula na maging dark comedy sa dulo kasi may eksena na naka-handcuff si Elena sa pintuan ng ref tapos binabaril siya ng mga kidnappers habang umiiwas sa mga bala na parang nagsasayaw. Akala ko nga papasok ang music, ipapatong niya sa ulo ang natanggal na pinto, tapos magsasayaw siya ng pandanggo.

You really can’t spell Etibak Gang without ebak. (Kung di ko lang talaga mahal ‘tong si Iza…)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

DISTANCE (Perci Intalan, 2018)

1B242FC3-D4F3-4B9A-9BDC-8E7F06ED3040

SPOILER ALERT!!

In some weird way, this worked very much like a burgis version of Anak, except that the mother intentionally abandoned her family to be with the person that she really loved. Even the rebellious teenage daughter was named Karla!!

I really liked the overall simplicity of the film (the lack of swelling music during the dramatic highlights made the silence even more deafening, the Balanghai-worthy editing with interweaving flashbacks, and the lack of a clean resolution).

The performances of Iza Calzado, Nonie Buencamino, and Therese Malvar were definitely top-notch. That climactic confrontation scene should secure Therese the Best Supporting Actress win. Napakahusay na bata!

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published August 8, 2018.)

 

ETIQUETTE FOR MISTRESSES (Chito Rono, 2015)

7ADD9126-E77C-4FC7-BD1E-5444702D54AC

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Etiquette for Mistresses:

1. It was not the train wreck that I expected and it was all because of the skillful direction of Chito Rono and his cast of competent actresses. The movie was actually reminiscent of Rono’s own Separada with five women dealing with their own personal problems but united by a common concern (basically, men).

2. The story of the core group (that included an understated yet exemplary performance by Iza Calzado, a light and comical take by Kim Chiu, a fiery turn by Claudine Barretto in full Mela mode, a hilarious Cheena Crab, and not-so-annoying acting by Kris Aquino) didn’t break new ground but it would make one pity (not empathize with) these “holiday orphans”.

3. The mix of cameos (the stellar Pilar Pilapil, a graceful Mother Mistress Helen Gamboa), the interesting rules (“Mistresses don’t complain, that is the job of the Mrs.”, “Perish all thought that someday you’ll be number 1”, “When all else fails, leave him”), and the overall sadness of situations made it completely watchable.

4. Favorite scenes:

• Explanation of Lucky Moon

• The throwaway Timezone joke

• That confrontation scene shot in the shadows! And that slap heard around the world!! (I swear everyone in the theater gasped and feared for their own lives.)

Worst scenes:

• Cellphone breaks car window (huh?)

• Excessive focus on Kim’s character (did we need that lengthy guitar sequence?)

• The police sequence straight out of Eskapo

5. If only Star Cinema could control itself on its requisite happy ending complete with surprise leading men cameos.

Now sing with me: “And don’t tell me what to do, and don’t tell me what to say, and please when I go out with you, don’t put me on display. You don’t own meeeee…”

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published October 1, 2015.)

The Best of Pinoy Cinema 2017

71606DFD-B1D0-4DA6-9E0D-1F2D109AAA60

EDB7E898-4FFC-46A2-BD02-86D776F3C50E

5CB71D31-39C9-4DB4-AFA9-D34FBA7C032F

5377CAB8-B404-4429-A86A-E9AA571D91A8

C2522DD9-EF76-4864-898C-1239296E511F

TOP 9 FEATURE LENGTH FILMS:

#9

LOVE YOU TO THE STARS AND BACK

Written and directed by: Antoinette Jadaone

6F47720A-790E-4878-A05A-2436F09BB77A

#8

HAUNTED: A LAST VISIT TO THE RED HOUSE

Written and directed by: Phyllis Grande

116A5191-359C-4267-87BD-6109905D5834

#7

ALL OF YOU

Written by: Carl Chavez, Mae Chua, and Dan Villegas
Directed by: Dan Villegas

9A1515D8-3D5A-4CDA-AE44-C37CFBA88F48

#6

ANG LARAWAN

Written by: Rolando Tinio
Directed by: Loy Arcenas

C5415A15-DE46-4273-BC58-9E4F26AEBC37

#5

BLISS

Written and directed by: Jerrold Tarog

5E3E6FC2-0EA3-4DD9-AB8D-F3054D133F5B

#4

PAKI

Written and directed by: Giancarlo Abrahan

F23017D7-3869-4FAB-95E2-93A892CA14BB

#3

RESPETO

Written by: Njel de Mesa and Treb Monteras II
Directed by: Treb Monteras II

CC29538B-A95F-40B8-9718-6847C93676DB

#2

CHANGING PARTNERS

Written by: Lilit Reyes and Vincent de Jesus
Directed by: Dan Villegas

F7A5DAD9-3582-4280-8468-9DE47F655018

#1

KIKO BOKSINGERO

Written by: Denise O’Hara, Ash Malanum, Heber O’Hara, Emmanuel Espejo, Jr.
Directed by: Thop Nazareno

A08BAC47-A051-4E79-B4B7-9BE54C48D601

2017 Scorecard:

★★★★★
CHANGING PARTNERS (Dan Villegas)
KIKO BOKSINGERO (Thop Nazareno)

★★★★☆
ALL OF YOU (Dan Villegas)
BLISS (Jerrold Tarog)
HAUNTED: A LAST VISIT TO THE RED HOUSE (Phyllis Grande)
ANG LARAWAN (Loy Arcenas)
LOVE YOU TO THE STARS AND BACK (Antoinette Jadaone)
PAKI (Giancarlo Abrahan)
RESPETO (Alberto Monteras II)
SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE (Carl Adrian Chavez)

★★★☆☆
100 TULA PARA KAY STELLA (Jason Paul Laxamana)
BAGAHE (Zig Dulay)
CAN WE STILL BE FRIENDS? (Prime Cruz)
DEADMA WALKING (Julius Alfonso)
FATIMA MARIE TORRES AND THE INVASION OF SPACE SHUTTLE PINAS 25 (Carlo Francisco Manatad)
HILOM (P.R. Patindol)
I’M DRUNK, I LOVE YOU. (JP Habac)
KITA KITA (Sigrid Andrea Bernardo)
KRISTO (HF Yambao)
LOLA LOLENG (Che Tagyamon)
MARIA (JP Habac)
NABUBULOK (Sonny Calvento)
SEVEN SUNDAYS (Cathy Garcia-Molina)
SI CHEDENG AT SI APPLE (Fatrick Tabada, Rae Red)
TU PUG IMATUY (Arbi Barbarona)
UNEXPECTEDLY YOURS (Cathy Garcia-Molina)

★★☆☆☆
12 (Dondon Santos)
ALIENS ATA (Glenn Barit)
BACONAUA (Joseph Israel Laban)
BAWOD (TM Malones)
BHOY INTSIK (Joel Lamangan)
CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE (Mae Cruz-Alviar)
DEAR OTHER SELF (Veronica Velasco)
THE DEBUTANTES (Prime Cruz)
FALLBACK (Jason Paul Laxamana)
FINALLY FOUND SOMEONE (Theodore Boborol)
THE GHOST BRIDE (Chito Roño)
ILAWOD (Dan Villegas)
ISLABODAN (Juan Carlo Tarobal)
JUANA AND THE SACRED SHORES (Antonne Santiago)
LAST NIGHT (Joyce Bernal)
LOVING IN TANDEM (Giselle Andres)
MANONG NG PA-ALING (E. del Mundo)
MY EX AND WHYS (Cathy Garcia-Molina)
NAKAW (Arvin Belarmino, Noel Escondo)
NAY (Kip Oebanda)
NERVOUS TRANSLATION (Shireen Seno)
NORTHERN LIGHTS: A JOURNEY TO LOVE (Dondon Santos)
ANG PAMILYANG HINDI LUMULUHA (Mes de Guzman)
ANG PAGSANIB KAY LEAH DELA CRUZ (Katski Flores)
SA GABING NANAHIMIK ANG MGA KULIGLIG (Iar Lionel Arondaing)
SIARGAO (Paul Soriano)
SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES (Raya Martin)
THROWBACK TODAY (Joseph Teoxon)

★☆☆☆☆
ACROSS THE CRESCENT MOON (Baby Nebrida)
AWOL (Enzo Williams)
BAR BOYS (Kip Oebanda)
BARBI D’ WONDER BEKI (Tony Reyes)
BES AND THE BESHIES (Joel Lamangan)
BEYOND THE BLOCK (Ricky Carranza)
BLOODY CRAYONS (Topel Lee)
BUNDOK BANAHAW, SACRED AND PROFANE (Dempster Samarista)
FANGIRL/FANBOY (Barry Gonzalez)
FOOLISH LOVE (Joel Lamangan)
ANG GURO KONG ‘DI MARUNONG MAGBASA (Perry Escaño)
HISTORIOGRAPHIKA ERRATA (Richard Somes)
I FOUND MY HEART IN SANTA FE (Bona Fajardo)
LADYFISH (Jason Orfalas)
MANG KEPWENG RETURNS (G.B. Sampedro)
NAKAUWI NA (Marvin Cabangunay, Jaynus Olaivar)
PWERA USOG (Jason Paul Laxamana)
REQUITED (Nerissa Picadizo)
SPIRIT OF THE GLASS 2: THE HAUNTED (Jose Javier Reyes)
THIS TIME I’LL BE SWEETER (Joel Lamangan)
TRIP UBUSAN: THE LOLAS VS ZOMBIES (Mark Reyes)
TRIPTIKO (Miguel Franco Michelena)
WOKE UP LIKE THIS (Joel Ferrer)