BHOY INTSIK (Joel Lamangan, 2017)

F6428C8D-D512-471E-B32B-792ECE632BDC

It felt very much like Lamangan got really inspired after watching Pamilya Ordinaryo that he wanted to do an alternate reality set in Digong times. In this version though, Jane was killed because of Oplan Tokhang and Ertha decided to be the mother hen of Aries.

There were so many things to hate in this movie (terrible direction, messy and predictable plot, one glaring continuity error!), but there was enough of the wonderfully natural chemistry between Raymond Francisco (who in drag had an uncanny resemblance to Dra. Vicky Belo) and Ronwaldo Martin (still potty-mouthed and in full kagat-labi mode) that made it bearable.

One gay character had a gay ol’ time inside prison because “pinipilahan sya ng mga preso”. Another one said the line, “Bakla ako pero lalaki akong kausap.” How progressive!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published March 14, 2017.)

HINDI TAYO PWEDE (Joel Lamangan, 2020)

64053F15-1ABA-4670-B3DC-825C8F283457

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Hindi Tayo Pwede:

1. Minsan napapaisip na lang ako kung seryoso ang Viva Films kapag sinasabi nito sa start ng mga pelikula niya na “Proudly Presents”. Kasi nung natapos ko panoorin ang kababalaghan na ‘to, considering na attached ang mga pangalan ng Philippine Cinema luminaries like Direk Joel Lamangan and Sir Ricky Lee sa project, nagtaka talaga ako kung saang part sila proud.

Napakalayo nito from being a future classic tulad ng City After Dark at Maynila Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag na nakapaskil ang posters sa kwarto ni Gabby (Lovi Poe). Apparently as a frustrated director slash writer, may taste siya sa local films kaya rin kasama ang mga larawan ng The Flor Contemplacion Story at Himala. Gusto ko yung lantarang pagbubuhat ng Lamangan/Lee tandem ng sariling bangko (check n’yo na lang ang credits ng dalawang pelikula sa IMDB).

2. First scene pa lang ni Lovi lumabas na agad siya na naka-(Bench Body?) underwear kasi alam ng filmmakers kung ano ang totoong selling point ng gawa nila (eh diba nga naka-topless yung tatlong bida sa movie poster with a promised threesome?). Hindi naman nagpatalo sina Tony Labrusca (as the boyfriend Gabriel, yes Gabby din oha destiny!) at Marco Gumabao (as the lovesick ”Besh” Dennis, as in Roldan). Paiksian ng swimming shorts at palakihan ng bukol ang labanan every time merong requisite pool scene (syempre!) at beach scene (syempre!).

Ang lakas ng tawa ko nung ni-top ni Lovi si Tony dun sa sex scene nila set to their theme song Never Ever Say Goodbye by Nonoy Zuñiga. Why that song choice ba? Hindi naman sila couple in their 60’s. At diba popular funeral song na ‘to?

3. Sabagay apt din pala ang kanta kasi patay na si Gabriel dito. Yup, hindi lang nasobrahan ng Mena cream si Tony sa poster.

(Side note: Grabe makasira ng mood ang direction dito. Pano yung sex scene na sinabi ko biglang naputol bago pa umabot sa chorus kaya ako na lang ang kumanta kahit ibang eksena na.)

4. Bago ang story kung hindi mo napanood ang early 90’s film na Ghost with Demi Moore and the late Patrick Swayze. Garapalan ang reference kaya meron din Oda Mae Brown dito in the form of a manghuhula named Madam Concha (played by the Vangie Labalan). Kabog si Ateng Whoopi Goldberg!!

Ang difference lang talaga ay directly nahahawakan at nakakausap ni Gabby si Gabriel na hindi na kelangan pa sumanib kay Madam Concha. I guess wise decision na rin siya kasi ayaw ko naman ata ng love scene between Lovi and Ms. Vangieeeeee.

5. Feeling ko naubusan ng budget for the visual effects (o nakalimutan na tuluyan ng director ang premise) kasi obviously gumagalaw naman ang mga bagay na nadidikitan ni Gabriel (like yung upuan at door tassels pag-walk out niya sa cubicle ni Madam Concha). Nasayang lang yung pag-emote nung isang extra na “Ooh ang lamig naman dito malakas ba ang aircon?”.

6. Favorite line ko yung kay Phoemela Barranda as an ad agency executive: “Bakit ang cheesy ng presentation mo? Cheese ba ang produkto?” (Gahd! Nasaan ang creativity boss? Bakit hindi na lang pizza or mac and cheese or sana ginawa mo man lang cheese platter diba?)

Second favorite ko yung exchange na ito…

Gabby to Dennis’ new jowa: “Nasungkit mo ang best friend ko!”

Dennis (feeling hurt): “Ginawa mo naman akong santol.”

(Yes Marco, we objectify you as a santol. At bakit ba laging nagmamakaawa ang characters niya na mahalin siya eh sure naman ako ang daming nakapila diyan?)

7. Bakit yung laging palabas sa sinehan nila eh mga lumang movies like Ate Shawie’s Ikaw? Naguluhan tuloy ako kung set ba sa 90’s ang pelikula. Kaya ba naka-tangga cut na bikini si Lovi nung umahon sa beach? Kaso modern naman ang surroundings like yung sa Citadines? Or may time jumps ba ako na na-miss kakatawa sa upuan ko?

And speaking of cinema, sana walang gumaya kay Gabriel who lacked basic theater etiquette at nag-propose talaga sa gitna ng isang screening. Kapag merong gumawa ng stunt na ito habang nanunuod ako ng A Quiet Place 2, sinasabi ko talaga merong bride na ikakasal with a missing ring finger.

8. “Dun lang namin na-realize na nakikita at nahahawakan ko lang si Gabriel dahil sa pagmamahal ko sa kanya. At ngayon na unti-unti nawawala ang pagmamahal na yun, unti-unti na din sya nawawala.”

Buti may explanation sa dulo kasi akala ko talaga nasobrahan lang ng Tide yung white shirt ni Gabriel.

9. Ipinakita sa ending na buntis si Gabby habang nakatayo sa puntod ni Gabriel. Kay Dennis ba yun or ghost baby nila ni Gabriel? I need answers pero ayoko na magbayad for a sequel huhu!

10. According to Sir Ricky (na uulitin ko, siya ang sumulat nito kaloka!), kalahati daw ng populasyon sa Pilipinas ay hindi pa nakaka-move on. Jusko kaya pala naghihirap ang bansa natin kasi puro lovelife ang inaatupag. Kaya din siguro hindi nauubos ang hugot films tulad nito.

Sabi nga ni Gabriel, “This is exactly why I hate Tagalog movies. Ang babaduy!”. Uhm… Let’s just say na nung nagtulak ng basurahan ang maintenance pagkatapos ng screening, akala ko kokolektahin din niya ang pelikulang ‘to.

P.S. Sorry walang threesome. Masakit talaga na pinagtagpo sina Tony at Marco pero di tinadhana.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

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: ★★☆☆☆

THE ANNULMENT (Mac Alejandre, 2019)

B0293F5B-AFA3-4BEB-8672-C284FD5D24E4

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)

F3A9C0CE-E476-4360-AB38-406634FA01EA

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)

D56DEEA5-5BDA-4DE4-9C6E-DE5AACF1D392

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)

9DC26BB1-ECED-44EC-A89C-17D5E9CC3D36

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)

A0377D76-A3A3-4A1C-BF13-A621422AB04C

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)

241C3C21-0F9B-450A-9590-3F839B0D4F2D

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: ★☆☆☆☆