ANG HENERASYONG SUMUKO SA LOVE (Jason Paul Laxamana, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Super concerned ako sa tropang ito kasi di pinag-usapan ang transpo nung nag-anniversary reunion sila sa kanilang out-of-town meeting place. Seryoso, hiwa-hiwalay ang pagdating? Close ba talaga sila?

Tapos yung movie was really less about their friendship and more on their individual lives. Yung parang US network show na mag-reminisce yung isang character tapos biglang flashback sa story niya. Meron sila kanya-kanyang segments that depicted their mostly petty problems (least of all yung love, kaya di ko rin nakuha ang title).

Si Ma-an (Jane Oineza) naunahan na ni Ellenya L. Desperate siya for online validation pero ang chaka ng content ng vlogs. Kelangan pa niya mag-drawing ng line graph before ma-realize na mas mataas na ang subscriber count niya kesa sa jowa ng ex niya (whut?).

Si Denzel (Jerome Ponce) naman ay bakla kasi siya yung loud, bitchesa, at tumitili kapag may pumuputok na lobo. Maayos pa naman umarte si Jerome in his previous films pero itinodo niya ang pagiging screaming queen dito. Yung every pilantik ng kamay eh di mo makakalimutan ang gender niya. Tapos nagmahal siya ng isang guy na ayaw siya i-kiss until official na sila pero gusto ng open relationship (huh? Mga vaklang twoooh!). Nasayang tuloy ang budget Magic Mike moves niya.

(Side note: Anim na seniors ang nag-walk out sa segment na ‘to kasi puro Grindr hook-ups. So plus one star agad kasi nabawasan ang ngumunguya ng chicharon sa sinehan.)

Ang mag-jowa na Hadj (Albie Casiño) at Junamae (Myrtle Sarrosa) mag-MU kaya sila pero hindi talaga sila (wait, anong term sa ganito ng current generation, pang-thunders na kasi ang MU). Nakakatawa si Hadj kasi siya yung infatuated sa Hollywood rom-coms kaya puro couples lang ang nakikita niya kahit saan tumingin. Pero feeling ko mahilig din siya sa Pinoy melodrama bilang nag-ala Gabby Concepcion acting via Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin siya nung lalayasan na ni Junamae (yan talaga pangalan niya baka tatay niya si Jun at nanay si Inamae jk).

Yung story ni Kurt (Tony Labrusca) ang pinaka-nagustuhan ko kasi nag-resonate sa akin yung situation niya na burnout sa work kaya affected ang physical and mental state niya. Nakakadala ang scene na umiiyak na lang siya habang tuloy-tuloy ang pagtanggap niya ng trabaho kasi kelangan (and also kasi nga di na sya nakakapag-isip ng maayos). Nung nag-describe siya na blank ang feeling kahit ano pa ang ma-achieve niya, ramdam ko yun sobra.

Sayang talaga kasi kulang sa bonding ang mga characters na ‘to. Di ko man lang alam paano sila naging magkakasundo given their different attitudes and personalities. Dinaan na lang sa isang montage sa dulo before hugging it out over a sensitive matter. I guess hanggang ganun na lang talaga siya. Wag na daw tayo magreklamo as long as naghuhubad lagi si Tony dito.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

JUST A STRANGER (Jason Paul Laxamana, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Just a Stranger:

1. Sobrang tagal na pala since my last confession. (Mababasa ito ng nanay ko kaya, Sorry ma, I’m not proud of it.) Feeling ko sa haba ng listahan ng kasalanan na ikukumpisal ko, baka mauna pa matapos ang Probinsyano bago ang pag-uusap namin ni Father.

Eh paano pa kung kasing-chismoso siya ng pari dun sa simbahan ni Mae (Anne Curtis) na nagpa-kuwento ng bawat detalye ng adulterous affair niya with Jekjek (Marco Gumabao)? Yung inabot sila ng halos dalawang oras kasi kelangan niya talaga malaman kung ilang beses nag-sex yung mga cheater bago maka-prescribe ng penance (one Hail Mary ba ang norm for every instance?).

Tapos kelangan may comic relief na sisilipin niya kung gaano talaga kaganda si cougar Mae na nahumaling sa kanya ang isang teenager. At para mas nakakatawa, may reaction siya na “My God! Oh shit, sorry!” na feeling ko katumbas ng isang Sorrowful Mystery. Okay ka lang ba, Father?

(Pero salamat sa refresher on the difference between mortal and venial sins, I guess.)

2. Bilang dating president ng Reyster-Ems Fans Club – Las Piñas Chapter, alam ko na ka-love team ni Anne sa T.G.I.S. si Chubi del Rosario (who was several batches lower sa akin sa Zobel) so parang ang hirap maniwala na she was playing somebody around my age. Common naman for actors to play roles na way older or younger than their actual (or screen) age pero may binabagayan din siguro.

Hindi ko talaga matanggap na 40ish na si Anne dito at doble ng edad ni Marco (na mukha namang mid-20s). Malayong-malayo sa casting ng recent May-December love affairs na kakapanood ko lang from Glorious (Angel Aquino-Tony Labrusca) to Belle Douleur (Mylene Dizon-Kit Thompson) to Malamaya (Sunshine Cruz-Enzo Pineda).

Ang off lang nung tinawag si Mae na “tita” at tinawag niya namang “totoy” si Jekjek kasi papasa pa silang halos magkaedad (does that make me “lolo” levels ganern?). Hindi ba available si Alice Dixson?

3. Maliban sa kabit factor, selling point ng pelikula ang promised steamy love scenes na hindi ko naman masyadong naramdaman. Sobrang hot nina Anne and Marco (as in yung sexual attraction sa kanila transcends any gender; their characters even shamelessly described themselves as “attractive, winnable, charismatic”) pero parang walang heat or passion kapag magkasama na sila sa kama (or their chosen place of torjakan).

Konting halik, konting himas, tapos na agad ang eksena at pawisan na sila parehong nakahiga. I didn’t expect naman na dapat super graphic, extended, or gratuitous ang sex scenes pero at the very least ramdam yung electricity between them as soon as their bodies touched, diba? Yung parang kelangan mo ng cold shower para mahimasmasan katulad nung pagkatapos ko mapanood ang Unfaithful.

Pero wala talaga eh. Baka dun pumapasok na para nga silang mag-tita. (Btw, ang weird nung “Mobile Legends” reference.)

4. Given naman na magaling umarte si Anne. Kita mo yung loneliness sa mata niya bilang trophy wife kaya nagawa niyang lokohin ang kanyang asawa (Edu Manzano). (Side note: Bakit nga ba hindi issue ang age gap sa atin kapag lalaki ang mas matanda?)

May hint of repressed naughtiness din siya kaya madalas mag-give in sa temptations. Yung restrained niya na pag-iyak sa balcony scenes were impressive. Also, parang siya lang ang kayang magdala nung glamorous alta look pa rin habang nakasakay sa sidecar with her oversized abaniko.

Alam ko they were going for realism in terms of ugly crying (as in uhog levels ni Tita Viola Davis) pero nagtawanan (at nandiri?) ang mga tao nung nag-stretch na parang cheese sa pizza ang laway niya habang umiiyak sa kitchen. Not a fan of her acting din sa eulogy dream sequence.

5. On the other hand, okay lang ang performance ni Marco. Hindi naman siya nilamon (even literally) ni Anne. Medyo malamya lang talaga ang acting niya when the role required an immature, feeling alpha-male boy. Yung kelangan ng conviction ang pag-overcompensate niya sa sarili with lines like “You guys can take turns on me, I can go all night” kahit alam mo lalabasan talaga siya after 30 seconds. At least believable siya magsuot ng brief.

(Also, I’m officially declaring 2019 as the Year of the Cinematic Pwet.)

6. Tbh medyo nagulat ako sa output ni Jason Paul Laxamana this time kasi maayos siya na writer at storyteller. Yung tipong aawayin ka niya on social media pero wala kang malait masyado sa body of work niya kasi usually nga malinis talaga ang mga gawa niya (my favorites are still Mercury is Mine and Bakwit Boys).

Dito parang ang sloppy ng screenplay pati technical aspects. May sub-plot about Mae’s fibromyalgia na walang pinatunguhan. May eksena na nagtanggal siya ng heels in full view of other guests kahit sobrang sophisticated ng character niya. Minsan hindi ko alam kung gusto nilang maging discreet or mahuli ng ibang tao (part ba ng thrill yung naglaplapan sila sa kotseng wala namang tint?). Bigla na lang hindi na issue ang age gap nung dulo.

Pero ang worst for me was the ending. Grabe lang yung cringe factor dun na may linyahang “Who are you?” tapos sumagot si Mae ng “No one…” at nakisabay ang buong sinehan sa pagsabi ng “I’m just a stranger”. Juskopong mahabagin.

7. Cherie Gil was onscreen for a good five minutes and ended up as the most memorable character. Eksenadora ang tita mo talaga. Oh wait, don’t call her tita pala!

(At teka, naguluhan ako nung nilandi ni Edu si Cherie kasi apparently he was “into women (his) own age” pero si Mae ang asawa niya. Ano ba talaga ang type niya?)

8. Irita ako dun sa girlfriend na Febbie simula nung fake surprise scene niya (na ewan ko paano siya nagtago sa likod ng parents ni Jekjek) hanggang dun sa chaka niya na pag-iyak sa church. Mas bagay siguro yung girl sa role ni Diablita (the doll).

9. Ang pinaka-suspension of disbelief talaga para sa akin dito (maliban sa supposed age gap) ay yung super rich kid ni Jekjek kasi sinustentuhan siya ng tatay niya para tumira sa Tokyo, Washington, at Lisbon tapos ang suot niya lagi na undies eh Bench Body.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

THE DAY AFTER VALENTINE’S (Jason Paul Laxamana, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

I can come up with ten things that I didn’t like about this movie, but I’m sure you’ll still watch this Hawaii travelogue narrated by damaged souls because of Bela Padilla and JC Santos (both much better in 100 Tula Para Kay Stella).

If I learned anything from Bela’s bangs, it was that I did the right thing in not trusting those DIY haircut tutorials on YouTube.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 16, 2018.)

BAKWIT BOYS (Jason Paul Laxamana, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Completely smitten by this charmer. One character pleaded a radio station manager to give a chance to unknown but exceptionally talented artists and it couldn’t have been more apt here. The cast (led by Vance Larena and the wonderful Devon Seron) was a delight to watch.

It may not have been a musical in the strictest sense but the original songs here were really good and served their purpose. Several reaction shots especially the one with a terrific Nanding Josef (as the boys’ grandfather) beaming with pride had me crying in my seat. Good stuff!

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published August 16, 2018.)

MERCURY IS MINE (Jason Paul Laxamana, 2016)

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An enjoyably weird ride that unfortunately went off the rails in its final twenty minutes.

I loved the screenplay because it didn’t try too hard to be funny. It also hit the jackpot with Pokwang who was truly phenomenal here.

Bret Jackson finally gave a decent performance. He had an easygoing charm that suited the role and (please don’t scoff) actually reminded me of a manic Leonardo DiCaprio.

Overall, this was a definite crowd-pleaser and I wouldn’t be surprised if it snagged the Audience Choice award.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published August 9, 2016.)

BABAGWA (Jason Paul Laxamana, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Enjoyable yet a tad predictable with excellent turns from Alex Medina and Joey Paras.

Babagwa borrowed heavily from Catfish and you could smell the ending twenty minutes into the movie. It was a crowd-pleaser, though.

Medina had this raw presence that I found charming onscreen. My fave performance was Paras’ though, slowly becoming a Cinemalaya darling.

There was an abundance of mixed animal symbolisms. Aside from the spider references (tattoo, cobwebs), there was the monkey and the turtle? Hmm…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published August 5, 2013.)

 

THE THIRD PARTY (Jason Paul Laxamana, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Third Party:

1. In the latest teaser of Bakit Lahat ng Gwapo May Boyfriend?, the character of Anne Curtis provided a helpful checklist to determine if a guy was check na check na check. She must have missed sending this memo to the hospital where Max (Sam Milby) and Christian (Zanjoe Marudo) worked because everyone there was oblivious to the fact that these two smart, attractive (matte makeup on fleek!), clean-looking, dapper, perfectly-coiffed doctors were actually gay. I would love to be in that non-judgmental hospital where not one of the staff secretly wondered why these bachelors didn’t have wives or girlfriends and just swooned whenever the couple would rendezvous in the lobby.

I was almost certain Christian was the type that would play The Emancipation of Mimi in full blast in his office, but I guess nobody would still get a clue.

2. When the teaser for this one came out, some people quickly dismissed it as a rip-off of Pusong Mamon (that campy 90’s Joel Lamangan comedy with Lorna Tolentino, Albert Martinez, and Eric Quizon). I initially thought that it wasn’t anywhere near that flick since it didn’t even hint at a pregnant Andi (Angel Locsin).

Well, I was obviously wrong because it was indeed an updated version of that movie. Even with a few tweaks made (the biggest one being that the father of Andi’s baby was neither of the two), it was still the same surrogate mother cohabiting with the gay couple story. Weirdly enough, it focused less on the interactions between the three and more on Andi’s life story. Seriously, how many more times would we see Angel face these mother abandonment issues?

3. Didn’t we learn anything from the convoluted multi-subplots in Barcelona? Aside from Andi’s mother issues, we also had to deal with Max coming out to his homophobic father (but this being a Star Cinema movie, you already know how this would end) and perennial BFF Beauty Gonzalez prepping for her wedding. Her minor character even had a lengthy wedding scene where her vows were meant to serve as a reminder (or wake-up call?) to Andi’s character. Huh?

4. I couldn’t get over the fact that Max chose to come out to his ex-girlfriend in a noisy club. Shouldn’t this be treated as a sensitive matter that merited a heart-to-heart conversation over Starbucks frappucinos? Or at the very least McSpicy with Shake Shake fries?

In another scene, the gay couple decided to have a serious talk on the status of their relationship in an art gallery. Why?? So that the wall between them could serve as a metaphor for their crumbling relationship? Or so that Max could contemplate next to a wooden pregnant art piece? Insert eye roll here.

5. Zanjoe was really good here as the controlling second party. Ibang atake from his previous gay roles. His best gay performance to date though was in 24/7 In Love. Skip the other stories and watch his episode with Bea Alonzo. Completely heartbreaking.

On the other hand, Sam’s performance left a lot to be desired. I was actually happy that his character opened up this discussion on gender fluidity, but he just lacked the depth required for the role. He also still needed to work on his accent because he already had that slight twang even before his character flew to San Diego. At least his abs had a highlight of their own again. Plus, he had a scene where he gleefully ate a hotdog. Wala lang.

6. Oh, and I never believed for a second that Zanjoe and Sam were a couple. I could still feel the ilang factor and they lacked the warmth and sweetness to each other. Even the kiss simply felt mechanical. I suddenly had the urge to rewatch In My Life.

7. I laughed a little when Angel mentioned that she wanted to work in Australia. So Love Me Again (Land Down Under) didn’t give her enough nightmares? Also, another Darna reference. Will we get this in every Star Cinema movie until the 2017 film comes out?

8. Ultrasound scene. Street food chatter. Videoke scene. Same old, same old.

9. Andi to the couple: “Kung kayo ba merong double deck, saan kayo pwesto?” Sadly, that was never answered. (Or was Sam’s hotdog-eating scene the answer? Hmm.)

10. I recently mentioned the guilty pleasures of Nympha (“Ikaw lang ang lalaking kumakain ng apoy na matagal uminit!”) so I was happy to see Alma Moreno playing the aunt of Andi here. I wish she was given more to do than just make a piggy bank out of her ample cleavage, though. Not even a Loveliness-level campaign-worthy dance number? Sigh.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆