MENOR DE EDAD (Joel Lamangan, 2013)

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If Rashomon and The Blair Witch Project had a baby, this movie would be its turd. Talk about waste.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 24, 2013.)

CULION (Alvin Yapan, 2019)

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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: ★★☆☆☆

THE ANNULMENT (Mac Alejandre, 2019)

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Hiyang-hiya si Britney Spears sa pagka-toxic ng mag-asawang ‘to.

Grabe for a drama sobrang dami ng tawa ko lalo na nung nagbuhusan sila ng isang jug ng water before mag-kitchen sex tapos slo-mo focus sa basang-basang (wink, wink) chest ni Joem Bascon hahaha! Tapos nung sex scene inutusan niya si Lovi Poe na “Kagatin mo!” habang pababa si ate mo sa nipples at pototoy niya hahaha!

Lovi to Myrtle Sarrosa (who should probably stick to cosplaying): “Sino ka? Anong tawag nila sa’yo maliban sa kabit?” (Hello gurl di mo ba kilala si Ate Marya? Eh di kerida, mistress, number 2 are you facking my husband anuba!!)

Meron pa parang marital rape na biglang naging angry sex na puro hampasan (sa braso??) na napaisip ako kung malamok lang sa kwarto nila.

Best yung totoong sinabon ni Lovi ang likod ni Joem sa shower sex scene. Very realistic. At syempre hagalpak ako nung sumbatan na ng infidelity at tinanong ni ate kung “Sinasabon mo rin ba ang likod niya?”. Hahahahaha!!

But wait, hindi pa ako umaabot dun sa OA court scene na straight out of Ipaglaban Mo. Mas naiyak ako at na-bother na pinayagan ng judge yung ganung shade ng purple lipstick sa lawyer ni Lovi. I object!!

Sigurado ba talaga na hindi ito directed by Joel Lamangan?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

S6PARADOS (GB Sampedro, 2014)

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I started #CinemalayaX with a disappointment and it was only fitting to end it with a clunker.

GB Sampedro’s S6parados was like a bad compilation of Regal movies stitched together for no reason. Or an extended Erik Santos music video.

At least we know that Joel Lamangan just might be a better actor than director.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published August 7, 2014.)

HUSTISYA (Joel Lamangan, 2014)

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It was so unfortunate that I started my Cinemalaya experience this year with Joel Lamangan’s Hustisya. It was so painful to watch. Ugh!!

The movie reeked as much as the gutters that were shown onscreen. I just couldn’t find one redeeming value in it.

It was the typical socio-political commentary you expected from Lamangan that didn’t really say anything new.

Even the usually brilliant Nora Aunor got dragged down by all the awfulness. More than her off performance, it was sad to see her struggle.

Her voice was so scratchy and she was having difficulty saying her lines. I refuse to accept that she’s way past her prime.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published August 2, 2014.)

FELIX MANALO (Joel Lamangan, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Felix Manalo:

1. Let me start with a disclaimer. To all my INC friends, this is not an attack on your religious beliefs. All my opinions are about the movie and none on our differences of faith. Love and peace.

2. When I first saw the trailer of this film, I thought, what else was there to show? And I was right. Everything you needed to know was right there, down to all the stars and starlets that had cameo roles.

3. To be fair, there were some noteworthy things in this movie. The costumes and production design (except for the Xeroxed portraits of American Presidents) definitely showed that the movie had a huge budget and the attention to detail was commendable. Some roles (although predictable, Jaime Fabregas as a prayle? Groundbreaking!) were also well-acted.

4. I wasn’t sure why every location (down to street names) and year had to be flashed onscreen. I guess the movie wanted to clearly show the timeline (Birth to death! No wonder it was three hours long!!) of important events in Manalo’s life. But really, did we need to be reminded that they were in Paranaque when the shop clearly showed Sumbrereria de Paranaque? How about the word Maynila shown in the scene that was shot in front of the Manila City Hall?

5. For a movie with a budget though, the sound design was scratchy, the musical score was relentless, the editing was confusing (with abrupt transitions from scene to scene), and the visual effects (especially during the war scenes) were laughable. Also, in the latter part of the movie, Dennis Trillo and Bela Padilla (with perma-crimped hair) played older versions of themselves with full-on face latex but their hands didn’t even age one bit. That was a missed Vaseline endorsement right there.

6. I’m sure Manalo’s a very interesting person but this movie just didn’t give his life story any justice. The idea of a man constantly questioning his source of faith and transferring from one religion to another in search of the ultimate truth is a gold mine. Such a missed opportunity.

7. It was a typical Joel Lamangan (of late) movie. Some scenes were staged like a high school drama. Please bring back the director that created searing socio-political commentaries like Bulaklak ng Maynila and Ang Huling Birhen sa Lupa.

8. I really didn’t understand the whole Japanese War sequence. Was it to show that the INC were severely persecuted for staying true to their faith? The only thing I clearly understood was that we don’t have any other Japanese captain to cast in our movies except for Jacky Woo.

9. Speaking of great casting, Gabby Concepcion played the son of Dennis Trillo. I know, right?

10. One other thing that wasn’t clearly explained in the movie was the instant wealth of Manalo. The latter scenes showed him living in a mansion in Riverside, San Juan and another one showed him riding a Cadillac. Sure, it would have been a controversial topic that might spark a lot of debate but isn’t that what biopics are for?

11. If they got one thing right, it was to ask Sarah G. to sing the movie’s theme song. An additional star just for that (hey, this is my rating!).

12. The end credits listed the actors’ names in alphabetical order. By first name. I wanted to cry.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published October 19, 2015.)

YOUR PLACE OR MINE? (Joel Lamangan, 2015)

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My notes on Your Place or Mine?:

1. I am done with Andi Eigenmann movies. I can’t recall anything she’s made that’s worth comparing even to the lamest film of brilliant mom Jaclyn Jose. This latest one should have been called Tragic Theater, Too.

2. Bret Jackson played a guy allergic to clothes and I guess those topless shots were supposed to console the female/gay viewers that shelled out money to watch this. His wooden performance was a notch worse than Aljur Abrenica and the only time he really came to life was in those scenes where he sucked Andi’s face off.

3. So Andi (I didn’t even bother remembering the characters’ names) was heartbroken and really drunk in a bar. A stranger approached her and asked that he take her home. Bret intervened, pretended to be her boyfriend, and took Andi to her car saying that it was a good thing he saved her from possible harm. Andi then threw up so Bret brought her to his apartment, changed her soiled clothes with a towel, and tucked her in bed. Drunk Andi was horny so she teased Bret with her tribal dance moves and they eventually had sex. So he still ended up taking advantage of a drunk girl. And that’s supposed to be a love story.

4. Andi’s family was apparently bankrupt and yet she wasn’t too concerned about the expensive car that she left at Bret’s condo after their one night stand. She even went straight to school after the incident. At least this girl knew her priorities.

5. Bret’s ex-girlfriend suddenly showed up to provide conflict but the only problem I saw was that her hair was chopped up by a hairstylist waiting for a lawsuit. It was short in front and long in the back with bangs everywhere. Even Billy Ray Cyrus would have laughed.

6. Why do these rich kids go to a club after school without even changing their clothes? That’s just eww.

7. Since this was a Joel Lamangan movie, there was a long sermon regarding love and fixed marriages spewed by a lawyer and/or doctor who also took a course in Matchmaking and Compatibility.

Dr. Matchmaker: “47% lang ang compatibility ng dalawang ito.”

Jackie Lou Blanco (Andi’s mom): “Eh ano ibig sabihin nun pag kinasal sila?”

Audience (muttering): “Tanga.”

8. After 30 years of watching Pinoy movies, I never thought that I’d still be hearing the line “May matinong babae ba na umuuwi ng alas-tres ng madaling araw?”

9. I guess I just didn’t get why Bret’s family would still want an arranged marriage with Andi when her family supposedly was 1 billion (for real!) in debt. How was this a marriage of convenience?

10. The tale of the disappearing hickeys.

11. Bret to Andi on his favorite dish: “Paborito ko talaga ang chicken pork adobo. Kelangan may chicken. Kelangan may pork.”

At kelangan inadobo?

Oh, and at one point Andi had to really learn how to cook the dish so the movie suddenly turned into a cooking show with Yaya Luring giving instructions. “O ilagay ang chicken. O ilagay ang pork. O ilagay ang suka. O ilagay ang toyo.”

Chef Rosebud would be so proud.

12. If there was one thing that was not so bad in the entire movie, it was Andre Paras. He was actually cute and charming and I could really see him flourishing in (better) romantic comedies.

13. In one scene, Andi was alternately using a fork and a soup spoon. How could the production not even notice this continuity error?

14. “Ma, hindi ako plano. Tao ako. Anak mo ako.”

And at that point, my brain just decided to shut down.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published May 3, 2015.)

THE SIGNIFICANT OTHER (Joel Lamangan, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Significant Other:

1. After a round of the most laughable sex that involved scenes of sweating backs, shaking thighs, and curling feet, Nicole (Erich Gonzales) asked Edward (Tom Rodriguez) about the status of their relationship. She wanted to put a label on it since she already said “I love you” to him on their first date, plus they had been making out for the longest time (the first being inside a car on an open field, next to a peeing kalabaw; how romantic!).

He could not give a straight answer since he was secretly married to supermodel Maxene (Lovi Poe) so with his signature constipated look, he assured her that she was his “significant other”. Not boyfriend-girlfriend, not boo, not sweetheart, not jowaers, not we’re-in-a-loving-relationship-since-we-had-sex-next-to-a-pissing-carabao, but just significant other.

Nicole, being the typical clueless kabit who had no self-respect and was devoid of any self-worth, lapped up his every word and reacted very much like the Sultan of Brunei just proposed to her. Gurl, since Edward was neither gay nor a millennial, being called a significant other was tantamount to being a kept woman. Yes, kerida, kabit, number two, mistress!! (Did I miss anything Terry?)

2. It was this kind of silliness that permeated throughout the entire movie:

• Where a candidate for a beauty pageant called Binibining Bacaycay fainted onstage and yet a talent agent was more concerned on recruiting her for a possible modelling career (shouldn’t someone be bringing her some Aceite de Manzanilla?).

• Where a high-profile dermatologist would use a flashlight for five seconds very much like a laser pointer to check a birthmark (fun fact: he called it a cafe au lait; do they also come in other fancy coffee names?) and immediately scheduled surgery to have it removed. One should also note that he was a complete pervert (he actually said the line, “Bibigyan kita ng gamot para mawala ang kati” and then promptly kissed the patient’s affected neck area after the laser treatment). Eww!!

• Where said high-profile dermatologist had an assistant nurse slash secretary whose main purpose was to sit at a desk armed with just a clipboard to welcome guests. No desktop computer, no laptop, not even a calendar or planner. Every appointment was on her magic clipboard. Where could I get one?

• Where a character said something like, “Wala nang mas gaganda pa sa bulaklak na niluto ng Diyos.” (Wait, bakit niluto ang bulaklak?)

• Where an extra delivered the line “Nicole, tinawagan ako ng nanay mo” then realized that she was a bit thirsty, asked for water while saying “Ako’y init na init na”, drank said glass of water, and without skipping a beat, repeated the exact same line “Nicole, tinawagan ako ng nanay mo”. Jusko!!

3. Speaking of lack of self-respect, there was a fashion show where Nicole and Maxene wore the latest Avel Bacudio wedding collection (sheer skirt over visible undergarments susmaryosep magagalit si Mother Butler!) and they took turns kissing Edward to stake their claim over him. It escalated into a slapping showdown and then a heated shouting match.

Nicole to Maxene: “I’m his significant other!!” (Like that actually meant shit.)

Edward: “Shhhhstop! Ssshhhhtop!!”

Maxene to Nicole: “Ginamit ka lang ng asawa ko bilang parausan!!” (The subtitles actually said: “You were just used by my husband as a pass time.”)

Avel Bacudio (played by Ricci Chan, the only actor here who was intentionally funny) then came out from backstage and started screaming (subtitles: “Are you finish? I, Avel Bacudio, is the star of this show!!”) and the two women had to regain their bearings and walked on the ramp again while the crowd cheered. Santissima santa!!

4. But wait, there’s more! When Maxene discovered that her husband was cheating, her first instinct was not to confront him, but instead to look at their happy family pictures and reminisce about the good ol’ times. More flashback while the theme song played. “I recall when you said that you would never leave me…” More hikbi. Dear Malabanan Services, please help because the amount of shit here is completely overflowing!!

5. Sample words of wisdom:

• “Yang kerida salot sa lipunan yan eh. Yan ang dapat tinotokhang!!”

• “Pag malaman ko lang sino ang babaeng yun, bubudburan ko ng asin para mawala ang kati!!”

• “Ikaw ang nagtulak sa kanya. Naghanap sya ng init sa puso.”

“Kahit anong sabihin mo kabit ka lang habang buhay!”

“At least ako ang pinili. Belat!” (I just added the belat part, but it wouldn’t feel out of place, right?)

6. After all the catfights and empty one-liners, the pervert, the negligent wife, and the kabit reconciled and became friends in the end. Because nothing screamed Pinoy soap opera more than a legal wife and a mistress winding up as mag-kumare for that requisite happy ending. “I’ll just keep on dreaming till my heartaches end…”

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

ANG DALAWANG MRS. REYES (Jun Lana, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes:

1. In Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, the titular characters played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin were two oldish women that bonded together after the devastating discovery that their husbands were gay (and actually lovers). Although they initially wanted to break them apart, the series became less about their planned revenge and focused more on how they learned to accept the truth. It was a delightful comedy filled with interesting insights regarding the gay community and the people that surrounded them.

The same could be said about this latest offering from Star Cinema. Although it struggled a bit to find the right balance of comedy (went too broad for my taste) and drama (considering its serious themes), it was still a fun watch. By the end of the movie, I really wanted to see more of Lianne (Judy Ann Santos) and Cindy (Angelica Panganiban). Would they still fall for gay men? Would they have a deeper understanding of homosexuality? What if Lianne’s daughter Macy (Andrea Brillantes) came out as a lesbian?

Dear ABS-CBN, please give them the comedy series that they deserve.

2. Juday is Juday is Juday. Whether she was wiggling her newly-refurbished boobies or delivering a hazy rant while heavily-anesthesized, she was a complete hoot and basically nailed every scene that she was in.

In one of the best sequences, she skirted on the question if something happened between them and macho dancer with a heart of gold Steve (Nico Antonio) to which he replied, “Hindi ko po kayo pinagsamantalahan kasi parang tiyahin ko na rin po kayo”. It was already a hilarious moment made funnier when Juday simply quipped, “Gago ka pala eh sana pinagsamantalahan mo na lang kami.”

I was also happy to see that she still had an abundant supply of tears. It wasn’t hard to forgive her character’s vindictiveness since one could clearly see and feel her pain caused by her husband’s deception.

(Because of this reason, I chose to ignore the fact that a top cosmetics executive like her would serve Goldilocks pastries in a classy private event.)

3. On face value, I wouldn’t have thought that Gary (Joross Gamboa) was gay as well. Sure, he fainted upon seeing his wife floating in a pool of blood, but it could just have been hemophobia. Besides, no self-respecting gay person outside of Ru Paul’s back-up dancers would wear his blazer and khaki shorts combo for a yacht cruise.

Fresh from his Deadma Walking stint, it would be easy to assume that Joross was essentially playing the same role so it was a testament to his acting skills that he was able to differentiate Gary from John. He had a scene in Ma Mon Luk where his emotions shifted from guilt to sarcasm (“Gusto keteng sekten, gusto keteng peteyen…”) to regret to optimism in seconds and it was just a terrific performance.

(I had never been to Ma Mon Luk in Quiapo, but I would love to visit that place, if I could get a seat.)

4. For Jeannie Mai, yellow may be the color of joy and celebration, but I really think that it should be pink. I loved the abundance of that color here and every pink item (the envelope with the farewell note, the cat cage of Mimi, the highlighter used by Cindy) made my heart really happy.

5. Speaking of the farewell note, I couldn’t understand the lengthy sequence of Cindy taking an entire day to read what looked like a ten-page letter. Ganun ba sya kabagal magbasa (considering that her husband’s revelation of being gay was clearly on the first page)?

I was reminded of this other movie called Lila where Janine Gutierrez took a year to finish reading a haunted diary. Totoo ba?

6. I guess that was my other concern about this movie. Jun Lana had always been technically proficient in terms of staging his scenes. There was a natural rhythm in them and you would rarely see any abrupt transitions. This had one too many of them that would just end and shift to another unrelated sequence.

When the parents of Felix (JC de Vera) crashed his housewarming party, it ended with a friend (Kim Molina) saying that she was a babaeng bakla. The joke not only fell flat, but ended a scene that needed to be seen. Sadly, it was only mentioned in passing during the next one, the consequences and repercussions of that confrontation never fully discussed.

7. Oh, Mimi was the name of Felix’s cat. I bet all of my Sarah Geronimo autographed CDs that he also had an entire collection of Mariah Carey albums. (And sang Through the Rain in the shower, naturally.)

8. I really thought that Angelica could do this in her sleep, but she just wasn’t given enough funny material to work with. That Catwoman bit wasn’t as hilarious as Maricel Soriano’s in I Will Survive and her constant showdowns with Carmi Martin felt childish and really off-character. She even played second fiddle to Juday when she should have been very much her equal. At least she delivered in that cunnilingus scene that ended with a really silly meow.

9. JC de Vera felt lost in his role and sounded like he was in an elocution contest. Where was the sensitive actor that was so good in Best Partee Ever?

Fortunately, he wasn’t the most annoying character in the movie. I wasn’t sure how Quark Henares ended up with that private investigator role, but he might want to do the exact opposite of Joel Lamangan and stay behind the camera.

10. Juday referring to her boobs as Mara and Clara gave me so much life. Also, her takedown of Winnie the Pooh made me snort Pepsi out of my nostrils (“Pucha sinabi ng bear yun?”).

11. “How can I be homophobic? I have colleagues that are gay. Strong supporter ako ng LGBT community.” Definitely ripe for a teaching moment. But seriously, I wonder how women would really react if they found out that their boyfriends or husbands were gay? How would they cope with the said reality? Friends with the same experiences, time to share.

12. “Kung hindi pechay ko ang problema, anong problema natin?”

“I just don’t see myself growing old with you.”

Saklap. Hay.

13. By the way, pechay was translated as oysters in the subtitles. Was tahong too graphic for our imagination? And since we’re on the topic, after the screening, this group of women started loudly discussing what they would do if they found out that their husbands were gay. One of them said, “Ako, magpapalago ng pechay!”.

Ate, what did that even mean? Still, natakot ako ng slight at the thought of it.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

TOP 10 MMFF MOVIES (2000-2016)

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