LAST FOOL SHOW (Eduardo Roy, Jr., 2019)

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It was the Ang Babae sa Septic Tank of local rom-coms that needed a bit more smart humor. As a Star Cinema production, I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t have the balls to completely bite the hands that financed it (most of the in-jokes focused on their posters).

Instead, it poked fun at recent non-SC love stories (albeit some were brutally spot-on, like that Ocean Deep montage ala Kita Kita or the awkward beach dancing ala Mr. and Mrs. Cruz). Seriously, they chose Arci Muñoz in the lead and not a single callback from Always Be My Maybe or Can We Still Be Friends? Wasted opportunity.

Muñoz was irritating in the kooky Issa character, but fared better as the serious Mayessa. JM de Guzman was just okay. Both performances lacked that “wink wink” factor that made Eugene Domingo in Septic Tank and Klaudia Koronel in Tuhog hilariously brilliant.

Plus half a star each for the use of (what I assumed were) the director’s real Balanghais and that Baby Arjan reference.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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YOU’RE MY BOSS (Antoinette Jadaone, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on You’re My Boss:

1. My biggest problem with the entire movie was that the love story between Georgina (Toni Gonzaga) and her ex-boyfriend Gino (JM de Guzman) was much more interesting than her strained blooming relationship with Pong (Coco Martin). Whereas the latter relied heavily on the typical rom-com cliches and the requisite happy ending, the former easily hit home with its relatable (read: “hugot”) take on breaking up and moving on.

2. Toni played the bitch boss from hell who probably watches The Devil Wears Prada during her free time while Coco played her assistant who couldn’t even properly pronounce the words “global” and “social media” (actually, almost any English word). They might have been playing variations of themselves but they still nailed their respective roles. And I just have to say that Coco’s lisp was actually part of his charms.

3. A lot of people will compare this to The Proposal but it actually felt like a rip-off of every Jadaone movie (love song sing-off: check, plane scene: check, travelogue destination: check). Not that I’m complaining.

4. How slow was that elevator? It took several minutes just to reach the third floor. No wonder Georgina’s always mad.

5. Although there were a couple of scenes that made me laugh (“Huwag mo ko i-pressure iho. Load lang ‘to, di mo ‘to ikamamatay”), the rest of the jokes just fell flat. The elevator scene where Georgina mentioned “more chances of winning” was met with cricket sounds. Some scenes also stretched on forever without any major punchlines (Georgina teaching Poy how to properly pronounce words, for example). Even some will be completely dated a few months from now (“Ikaw yung nasa Binibining Pilipinas! Are you looking forward to your second time?”).

6. Georgina who was supposedly a fashion expert said, “Ang lalaki kapag bulaklak ibinibigay, hindi isinusuot.” I guess she missed last year’s Prada and Gucci Spring/Summer collection. Mayor Atienza is definitely way ahead of the times. (Was the stab at Coco’s fashion sense intentional? Kris and Kim were probably laughing somewhere.) Oh, and Toni’s clothes here were fabulous.

7. I found it funny that the van scenes were shot in a loop around Madrigal and Daang Hari. They were literally going in circles before ending up in Makati. Only a Southerner would know that.

8. For the role reversal to be completely believable, the movie’s asking us to check our brains at the door. How could an AVP make such stupid business decisions (to correct an already stupid viral scandal, to boot)? How could investors not know the VP of an international airline that they would like to have business with? How long will that charade continue before the Japanese investors find out that Pong wasn’t really the boss? They couldn’t keep that a secret forever, right? Was it done just to deliver the movie’s message of honesty? Please. Everything was a business fantasy where a slide show presentation made by a 12-year could win over an international investor.

9. I expected Pong to teach Georgina how to treat people well (like Manong Driver). So many missed opportunities.

10. Does the Seen functionality work on all phones? Georgina mocked the cellphone of Pong (“Walang magnanakaw niyan”) but it seemed to be working with its own iMessage.

11. Coco was able to shill most of his endorsements but the one that really worked for me was Argentina corned beef. I started craving for a hot bowl of rice topped with onion-covered corned beef. Yum!

12. Expect a lot of people flocking to Batanes after seeing this movie. The place just looked gorgeous. It was much better here than in Dementia. I would definitely want to visit that Honesty Store. And any place with zero crime rate is tops in my book.

13. Stay for the end credits. It was the funniest bit in the entire movie.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published April 5, 2015.)

I LOVE YOU. THANK YOU. (Charliebebs Gohetia, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on I Love You. Thank You.:

1. I wasn’t exaggerating when I initially said that this movie felt as inauthentic as the overpriced Shrimp Tom Yum served in Mango Tree Bistro GB3. Although admirable for not indulging on gratuitous (and graphic) sex scenes that had become a common trait of Pinoy pink films, this one didn’t exactly feel like a gay movie.

The main couple Red and Ivan (played by Prince Stefan and CJ Reyes, respectively) who were supposedly in a relationship for four years never once kissed on the lips. On their anniversary, one of them kept saying “I love you here” before kissing a specific facial part of his partner (the forehead, the nose, the left cheek, the right cheek), but not on the lips. Even in bed, the most romantic thing they did was hug each other.

Was this just a long-term bromance? Or did these (supposedly) straight good-looking actors have a clause that they couldn’t do something that might ruin their careers and stereotype them in gay roles forever (ehem Martin Escudero)? It actually would have been more forgivable if they could act, but their every dialogue felt like they had constant bouts of constipation.

2. Do they really serve a drink called Sperm in Thailand? Everyone in that place seemed to like it and kept ordering one every time there was a bar scene. I tried to Google it, but the sperm cocktail that showed up would definitely be considered #NSFW.

3. In one scene, Paul (Joross Gamboa) was on a moving train and he decided to stick his head out the window to signal that he was carefree and ready for another adventure. Although it was a meet cute moment for Tang (Ae Pattawan, a budget JM de Guzman), it still triggered my travelling anxiety of getting locked up in a foreign country brought about by repeat viewings of Brokedown Palace.

Thank goodness for Joross though, because he was the only credible actor here (Pinoy or otherwise). Every inflection, flick of the wrist, or brush of his hair could have easily fallen under the gay stereotype but they just added a bit more nuance in his performance. Now about that excessive use of BB cream…

4. The hugot lines would either make you reflect about your love story and cry all the way home or (in my case) cringe in your seat and wish that you did not develop diabetes after hearing them. Sample dialogue:

• “May dalawang klase ng tao sa mundo: ang nagmamasid at ang minamasdan; ang umaalis at ang iniiwan.” (At ako ang pangatlong taong tumatawa habang nanunuod sa nagmamasid at minamasdan.)

• “I loved you first. I loved you even before Ivan loved you. And I loved you more even after he left you.” (Anong kamartyran yan, teh?)

• “Who goes through more pain: the one who went away or the one who is left behind?” (Malamang the one who is left behind kasi iniwan sya diba kasi yung the one who went away nakahanap na ng bago kahit di nya aminin yun ang totoo.)

• “I’m willing to wait for you until you’re healed.” (Tangaaaaa!!)

5. In a job interview for a wedding company, Paul mentioned that he wasn’t really good and that his friend was only exaggerating with his recommendation, but he would still try his best. The interviewer slash owner just said, “Ok, you promise?” and hired him on the spot. Ganun ba talaga kadali maghanap ng trabaho abroad? Wait, let me update my resume.

6. Why couldn’t we have smart and drama-free gay characters in films? I couldn’t understand why there were actually two habulan scenes here that ended up like scenic tours of Thailand. The funnier one was a supposed metaphor of the love triangle involving Red, Paul, and Tang, where they ran after each other (ala My Best Friend’s Wedding) passing through houses and roads and a bridge. It was intended to be serious and dramatic, but was clumsily shot and made me cry from laughter.

Speaking of love triangle metaphors that hit you right on the head, there was an actual photograph where Paul was looking at Red who was looking at Ivan (the only person staring at the camera). Totoo? May nagpapa-picture ng ganito?

7. If there was one moment that I really liked, it would be the ferry scene (wait, MBFW reference again?) where Tang grabbed the finger of Paul and wrote the Thai words “I love you” in the air. When Paul asked what that meant, Tang just smiled and said, “It means beautiful sunset”. Awww!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MA’ ROSA (Brillante Mendoza, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ma’ Rosa:

1. The film opened with Rosa (Jaclyn Jose) hoarding what seemed to be packs of Ri-Chee and other chichirya for her small sari-sari store. Similar to that weird sweet milk snack, Brillante Mendoza’s oeuvre would definitely be an acquired taste. As always, expect your senses to be assaulted by the headache-inducing shaky cam and the palpable stench of Manila’s esteros emanating from the screen. As a sucker for poverty porn (that had been getting a bad rap in the local indie scene) and Mendoza’s cinema verite style of filmmaking, I absolutely loved the entire experience. Ri-Chee, not so much.

2. I have always wondered why vendors give candy in lieu of actual change ever since I was given a sukli of Juicy Fruit gum. Is this just a Pinoy thing? (Also, my OCD self really hates butal.)

3. Much had been said about Jaclyn’s brilliant final scene (seriously, that had to be the saddest fishball moment ever), but I really loved how un-Jaclyn she was here. Before she went crazy over-the-top in her recent kabit movies and loony teleseryes, I usually associated her performance with the one parodied in Jeffrey Jeturian’s Tuhog where she talked in this seemingly lazy monotone like a drugged diva who didn’t really care much about performing.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved her type of non-acting acting, but in this film, her performance just felt more…alive. Every dialogue and curse word that came out of her potty mouth sounded true and I felt the dread of being part of her doomed family.

4. Is there a President Duterte biopic in the works? Please consider this Cannes-winning treasure. (Speaking of, I loved how timely this film was considering the recent drug busts happening everywhere in the metro.)

5. Who was the kid that played one of Rosa’s sons and looked like a cross between JM de Guzman and Rainier Castillo? Where have I seen him before?

6. Considering the grim subject matter, I enjoyed the little bits of humor thrown in whether it was Rosa asking the policemen for load to call her supplier, or her husband Nestor (Julio Diaz, effectively understated as always) getting mocked for looking good in a lieutenant’s uniform, or Racquel’s (Andi Eigenmann) description of her mom as someone who looked like her but with humongous breasts, and even the intentional (?) Pare Ko videoke homage to Mark Anthony Fernandez (as one of the corrupt cops).

7. When Rosa uttered the line, “Sir, hindi kami puwedeng makulong kasi mahirap lang kami”, I felt like I was in the middle of a fender bender with a reckless jeepney driver sheepishly scratching his head while looking at the damage that he caused. (Not being elitist, but still…)

8. I was fascinated with the treatment of the gay characters here. One was a young boy wearing his Little Miss Trouble shirt constantly called fag (in a non-derogatory Pinoy way, if there ever was such a thing) and being one of the boys/cops as they celebrated their extortion bounty over lechon manok and San Mig Light (that he was tasked to buy naturally) and later on caught trying to steal a suspect’s cellphone. Another one was a pony-tailed server with heavy make-up and a masculine voice (maybe he wasn’t gay and I was just being judgmental?) who blatantly lied about his boss’ whereabouts. The last was Allan Paule as a benefactor easily fooled by the whims of his needy and manipulative beh. Should this be considered progressive cinema or a sad reality of our society? (Or both?)

And for the curious minds, this was a Mendoza film with Allan Paule playing another gay stereotype so of course, there was a gay sex scene. (Oh, the irony!)

9. Do you still remember Maria Isabel Lopez stealing the scene on the Cannes red carpet with an Albert Andrada emerald dress? She did the exact same thing here while wearing a daster (I think) and spewing profanities and she was nothing short of amazing. This woman was the epitome of the word eksenadora.

10. If you had completely lost faith in our corrupt criminal justice system and thought that policemen rank second on the list of most annoying reptiles in Malabon Zoo, this one definitely wouldn’t help change your mind. Reality sucks.

Rating: ★★★★★