CINCO (Frasco Mortiz, Enrico Santos, Ato Bautista, Nick Olanka, Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2010)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Anthology of five horror shorts kyemerut. Parang pa-bibong Shake, Rattle, Roll with its two additional stories pero hindi naman nakadagdag sa scare factor.

BRASO (Frasco Mortiz) – ★☆☆☆☆

Tungkol sa baklang braso na nag-break free sa pagiging closeta at dinakma ang yagbols ni AJ Perez (RIP).

PAA (Enrico Santos) – ★★★☆☆

Tungkol sa isang nanay (Jodi Sta. Maria in full batas ng isang api mode) na hindi marunong magpagpag kaya sinundan ng multo ng batang ninakawan niya ng sapatos.

MATA (Ato Bautista) – ★★☆☆☆

Tungkol sa isang babaeng (Maja Salvador) trapped in a Groundhog Day nightmare kung saan jowa niya lagi si Rayver Cruz. Saklap.

MUKHA (Nick Olanka) – ★★☆☆☆

Tungkol sa bitch from hell na boss (Mariel Rodriguez channeling Kimmy Go Dong Hae) na ginamit ang mukha ng kawawang office janitor to test their new photocopying machine. Naghiganti tuloy ang kaluluwa nito na galit sa mga DDS tulad ng asawa ni boss na si Robin Padilla.

PUSO (Cathy Garcia-Molina) – ★★☆☆☆

Tungkol sa isang chakang perya performer (Pokwang) na desperadong magka-lovelife at sa kasamaang-palad ay zombie ang nagayuma. Hindi na rin masama kasi mas mukha pang mabango ang naaagnas na si Zanjoe Marudo kesa sa mga People You May Know ng Facebook.

Saan banda ako dapat matakot?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MAN AND WIFE (Laurice Guillen, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Para akong pumasok sa portal ni Dr. Strange tapos bumalik ako sa late ‘80s at nanood ng prehistoric na mala-teleseryeng pelikulang ito sa Alabang Twin Cinema. (FYI: It was loosely based on Gulong ng Palad.)

Ang main problem ni Jodi Sta. Maria dito eh sunud-sunuran siya sa mister niya. Seryoso? Itatakwil siya ng Gabriela for sure. Jusko very dated ng tema kaya pala si Gabby Concepcion ang kinuhang mister niya.

In one scene, Jodi was having a shouting match with her sister. Their mother (Amy Austria) intervened and broke a piggy bank in front of them (“Nag-aaway kayo dahil sa pera? Ayan ubusin n’yo!!”). It was supposed to be a dramatic moment but all I could think of was, “Ubusin alin? Yung mga barya??”.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

CLARITA (Derick Cabrido, 2019)

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Luz Clarita.

This was the type of religious flick that my Singles for Christ friends would recommend to sinners like me. (Spoiler alert: It actually ended with the instrumental version of Sapagkat ang Diyos ay Pag-ibig. I felt my skin burn while watching the headache-inducing, jumpy end credits).

If you’re really interested in the real-life possession story of Clarita Villanueva, you can search for the much better and far scarier Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho Gabi ng Lagim episode (titled Sanib).

Maganda ang kili-kili ni Jodi Sta. Maria, though.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

DEAR OTHER SELF (Veronica Velasco, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Dear Other Self:

1. As the great Basha Belinda Eugenio once said, “I want to stop wondering ‘what if’. I want to know ‘what is’.”

And so I assumed that after countless viewings of One More Chance (or probably Sliding Doors), Rebecca/Becky (Jodi Sta. Maria) imagined a world of infinite possibilities with the question, “What if hindi nangyari yung moment that changed your life? Nasaan ka na ngayon?”.

2. Would she be like Becky, a financially stable corporate slave trying to find love in the workplace? In this fantasy world, she experienced the following:

• Had a good night’s sleep because of a brownout that stopped the loud videoke session of a neighbor (this probably happened prior to global warming when people could easily sleep without an electric fan or airconditioning)

• Rode a bike to work because she would rather pay for expensive coffee than get an Uber (how she remained fresh with all the city’s smog was never explained, though)

• Presented a winning sales pitch to a client using three Powerpoint slides and was awarded a car for her great work (wait, how did she learn how to drive?)

• Developed a workplace romance with Chris, played by Joseph Marco who delivered his lines like a doctor trying to tell a patient that he had terminal cancer (to be fair, masarap sya kumain ng tortang talong).

3. Or would she be more like Rebecca, a free spirit slash pretentious travel blogger trying to find love in exotic Thailand? Now in this fantasy world, she experienced the following:

• Woke up cranky after a neighbor’s all-night videoke session (although seriously, who doesn’t wake up cranky before going to work?)

• Spilled coffee on herself and her laptop prior to a presentation, almost got run over by the client that she called “kalbo”, and delivered the craziest sales pitch that really wasn’t any better than the one given by Becky (she didn’t have a back-up file and only prepared the night before, why would I feel bad for her?).

Also, her manager asked her to speak in English and when she failed to do so, she was replaced by a colleague who delivered the pitch in…Filipino. (Huh!?)

• Chose to be a travel blogger instead (which consisted of two Twitter posts and one blog entry), flew to Thailand (I thought her family was cash-strapped?), had a pillow fight and fell in love (agad agad?) with Henry, played by Xian Lim who spoke like he wanted you to open a new BDO savings account.

4. In the end, the movie didn’t really want to choose just one fantasy world and simply summed up her experiences with the life lesson, “The best part of travelling is coming home.”

What?! This is the very reason why a lot of people really hate millennials.

5. As always, Jodi was the sole reason to watch this movie. She was endearing and funny and made the most out of her cardboard-thin characters, whether she was trying her best to hold back her pee or blurting out “Sex!” when asked to choose between cheesecake or chocolates.

In a fantasy world, she would be a much bigger star with better leading men.

6. I wonder if this premise would have worked better as a teleserye. I read somewhere that the story was actually similar to a Taiwanese series called Life Plan A or B. Definitely adding that one to my queue.

7. One character kept rolling his eyes that I wondered if he should have been named Becky instead. (He’s the one with the good hair, of course!).

8. And speaking of, in one scene, the cab driver in Thailand asked Chris if he wanted a ladyboy and he felt very offended that he said, “Uupakan ko na ‘to”. When Becky asked him, “Anong ladyboy?”, he replied with a wrist flick.

Dear Chris, do you know that one of the signs of homosexuality is extreme homophobia?

Why were there so many Beckys in this movie?

9. If this movie got one thing right, it was the distinctly Pinoy feeling of being homesick. Take it from the guy who immediately missed his bed a few hours after landing in Laoag.

10. Burning questions:

• Were the extras in the airport the same ones used during the elephant bathing scene?

• If Rebecca went to Thailand as a tourist, why did it show her working there as well? (No to illegal immigration!)

• When Becky and Chris stepped out of the theater after watching a horror movie, why was the poster The Third Party?

• Bakit ang daming natatapong kape sa pelikulang ito??

11. In Jodi’s next movie, I would be more than happy if she starred with an elephant instead. It looked like they had more chemistry anyway.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

THE ACHY BREAKY HEARTS (Antoinette Jadaone, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Achy Breaky Hearts:

1. More than Valentine’s Day, I think the annual family reunion is the ultimate source of pain and trauma in any single person’s life. There will always be that one snooty aunt that will ask you the age-old question of “Kelan ka mag-aasawa?”, like your being single is a source of shame for the entire clan that they want to immediately sweep under the rug. On the flip side, you can view it positively that they only ask out of love because they don’t want you to end up as an old maid. A shameful old maid that they want to lock up in the basement, away from the prying eyes and loose lips of neighbors. Sigh.

2. The first few minutes of the movie smartly tackled this perceived dilemma of single women. Can one truly be alone and happy? Does Gabriela revoke your feminist card if you still long for someone that you can clutch onto while watching a horror movie in a cinema (especially one packed with lovers)? Is it wrong to admit the feeling of sadness even if you’re toasting for independence with your other single amigas?

3. Jodi Sta. Maria was perfect in the role of Chinggay because she was able to easily convey these mixed feelings, even when the movie started to default to a typical Star Cinema rom-com. The best scene involved an iyak-tawa moment of her dancing to Sasakyan after getting her heart broken yet again. She may drink a lot of Anlene, but she still gets weak in the knees when it comes to boy problems.

Also, although Chinggay was a successful jewelry store manager, she still seemed very submissive to the two men in her life. I wonder when Jodi will play an actual tough careerwoman that wouldn’t require her to call a man “Sir” every ten seconds.

4. I really abhor voiceovers that feel intrusive and basically explain the characters’ feelings and motives. Show us, don’t tell us. If an effective narrator is really needed, then please refer to Jane the Virgin.

5. I almost died from kilig in the scene where Ryan (Ian Veneracion) removed the ring from Chinggay’s finger using his mouth, but there were two thoughts that immediately countered that feeling: 1) my grandmother told me that you should never remove another person’s ring because you’ll end up becoming enemies, and 2) GERMS!!

6. I have always been #TeamTisoy ever since All You Need is Pag-ibig (they even tried to recreate that movie’s charming Bilanggo sing-along, but it just wasn’t as effective here). Besides, ex-boyfriend Frank (Richard Yap) looked like her father, was a bit malamya, and talked like a wooden spoon. He was no match to the vampiric looks of Ryan that made three women collapse from their seats when the camera zoomed in on his sleeping face. (Speaking of, I was happy to see that Ian sweats a lot like any human being. But then again his sweat might actually smell like Clinique Happy, dammit!)

7. Was that really a De Luxe room in Victoria Court? The faux gold and matching thunderstorms looked like a Premiere Off Beat room. No, I’m not a suki. Please don’t be judgmental.

8. Here are some more burning questions:

• Kelangan talaga meron mini-commercial ng Jolly Spaghetti where Chinggay can reminisce about her childhood? Or a Flanax scene that rivaled the Biogesic cameos in all the John Lloyd Cruz movies?

• Why didn’t she clean her bag? How long was that expired condom in there?

• Was Marion Aunor the only Star Records artist? (To be fair, most of her songs were really good.) Let me rephrase, was Marion Aunor the only good Star Records artist?

• Did you really expect us to believe that Ryan’s character knew the lyrics of Sasakyan by heart?

• Did they use the exact same locations (restaurants) in You’re My Boss and Everything About Her, among others?

• Why couldn’t Ryan take Chinggay to the real Paris? (Please don’t tell me that a Ducati owner like him was just being a cheapskate.)

9. Jodi looked really good, but she also needed some chapstick. There were also times when I wanted to feed her a cookie.

10. Special hugot quotes for my single friends:

• “Next time wag tayo tatanga-tanga sa investment.”

• “Ang love hindi para sa mga duwag o tamad. Ang love hinahanap at pinaglalaban.”

• “Kapag nagmamahal, nasasaktan. Pero kapag nasasaktan, ang mahalaga lumilipas.”

• “Ang pagmamahal hindi nawawala. Pero hindi porke’t mahal mo, para sa ‘yo.”

11. Shamaine Buencamino could play all of Star Cinema’s mother roles and I would never complain.

12. As expected, the ending was a cop-out. I would have been happy even if she didn’t choose between the two and the movie ended with a close-up of her single-blessedness face, but then it decided to tack on this hopeful ending negating every single platitude delivered by the voiceover.

Seriously, just because it didn’t introduce a twin or a doppelganger in the end didn’t mean that the movie was being brave. Teka lang muna wait, Star Cinema…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

ALL YOU NEED IS PAG-IBIG (Antoinette Jadaone, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on All You Need Is Pag-ibig:

1. It’s easy to identify if you’re watching an Antoinette Jadaone romantic-comedy. After the success of That Thing Called Tadhana, almost everything that she has written and/or directed followed a standard template with the usual elements (an animated prologue with a heart, a scene inside a moving vehicle like a bus or a plane, crying scene over the same pares restaurant, lovely out-of-town location, etc.). The only thing different in this movie was the omnibus structure similar to Love Actually.

2. The problem with having a lot of interconnected stories was the limited time being allotted per narrative. The movie also tried to force several unnecessary connections with its characters. Unfortunately, it chose to focus on the weakest and most formulaic love story (sorry KimXi fans), further reducing the screen time of the most interesting ones (the more grown-up A Very Special Love workplace romance of Jodi Sta. Maria and Ian Veneracion, and a variation of 1st Ko Si 3rd’s dying marriage between Nova Villa and Ronaldo Valdez).

3. Kris Aquino played a love guru named Love with her own popular talk slash advice show. Her character suffered a major meltdown on live TV while being interviewed by Boy Abunda. It should be noted that Kris was completely silent during the first few minutes of the said interview (a first on Philippine TV) and that the said meltdown was not triggered by Boy’s imaginary mirror. It should also be noted that in a future scene, Kris could be seen wearing a bikini and that immediately set off my holiday depression.

4. The major source of kilig here came from the Jodi and Ian tandem simply because they were really bagay. There was nothing original in their love story but you couldn’t help but feel all tingly inside with every stolen glance and sweet gesture. Their story alone was worth the price of admission.

Star Cinema, please tell me that they have their own movie coming out soon (preferably without Jodi’s horrendous wig).

5. Coron, Palawan looked gorgeous. If only I were not averse to sunshine, I would have booked a flight already.

6. I have loved Kim Chiu since she discovered her inner comedienne in Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo. Sometimes she just needed to rein herself in a bit especially since she was matched with the very wooden Xian Lim (perfect for a Machete remake). Every scene with him was just so annoying (no, he was not clap clap POWERFUL!) that I almost went half-bald from tearing my hair out.

7. The Facebook-like page used in one scene showed “View Photo’s”. At this point, I really went bald.

8. A lot of the funny scenes in this movie involved naked actors. Nova Villa brought the house down with her (literally) stripped down performance. A topless Xian with his mismatched face and body skin tones (put down that Chin Chun Su!) made my stomach hurt. And Derek Ramsey running butt naked on the beach wasn’t really funny but the thought that this role was originally given to Herbert Bautista (imagine Bistek’s bum!) made me laugh really hard. May I request that for a possible sequel, please?

Rating: ★★★☆☆