BOY TOKWA: LODI NG GAPO (Tony Reyes, 2019)

d732a2df-7c44-4fe2-93c5-733af7c8b6e3

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Boy Tokwa: Lodi ng Gapo:

1. Anak ng tokwa! I was hoping for a palate cleanser after the mediocrity (to put it lightly) of the recently concluded Metro Manila Film Festival, but I ended up with this problematic garbage (to put it lightly) as my very first movie of 2019. Which shouldn’t be a surprise since I started 2018 with the stinker Haunted Forest and ended it with Jack Em Popoy: The Puliscredibles. Why break tradition, right?

2. The movie opened with a disclaimer that it was inspired by a true story, but any similarities to actual persons or events were purely coincidental. Was that supposed to be a joke? Like the opening scene with the announcement of the arrival of Cebu Pacific flight 5JX while a clip of (I think) a non-Cebu Pacific plane was landing at Clark International Airport?

3. The cast of young unknowns (half of which looked like they were part of the Sotto clan, since Tito Sotto was a producer) were just awful. Everyone talked like they were communicating with dogs that lived three blocks away from SM Southmall. The ones that played the local relatives had an American twang even if they were just explaining what ukay-ukay meant. One had the unfortunate task of delivering this line: “Lodi ng Gapo? Petmalu! Boom panes!”. Like, eww.

4. Jose Manalo played the titular role who was some sort of Robin Hood in 1940’s Olongapo. He would con American soldiers into buying overpriced tuko (gecko?) or used smelly panties and then donate the money to the needy. He also cheated them a lot in poker games, but was supposedly just doing a heroic deed. As one character (Joey Marquez) described him, “Hindi siya katulad ng ibang con man na walang puso. May moral standards siya at hindi tuma-target ng mga Pinoy.” Eh di wow!

(In hindsight though, anybody willing to pay 250 dollars for funky-smelling underwear probably deserved their fate.)

5. The iconic Vangie Labalan was Mommy Tokwa. Nothing follows.

6. It’s already 2019 and the sources of humor here included a stutterer (“Pina-kiki-kiki-kiki-usapan ko pa…”), a Chinese character named Tsing Tsong Atsay (Epy Quizon) who used an abacus to compute his poker winnings, and a joke about a maliit na unan (unano, of course!). Woke social media… attack!!

7. Tito Sen, what happened to the movie’s budget? Why were the same American soldier extras and pokpok chorus walking in the background in every Olongapo scene? Why was a green screen used in the Guam tourist spots montage? Why didn’t they even change the name of Kandi Towers in Pampanga when it was supposed to substitute for a hotel in Guam?

On the other hand, four different actresses played Daughter Tokwa and yet they looked nothing like each other.

8. My favorite moment in the movie was when Boy Tokwa was abandoned by his wife and he started reading her goodbye letter. The voiceover screamed, “I AM LEAVING YOU BOY! YOU ARE NEVER SEEING US AGAIN!”. I imagined that the letter was also written in all caps.

Immediately after, Boy had a walling scene while wailing, “Juskopo, anong kasalanan ko?” and then the camera focused on an altar of religious images. Buti hindi nagsalita ang mga rebulto ng, “Anak, nanloko ka kasi ng mga ‘Kano. Karma yan.”

9. Sample dialogue that made me fart in my seat:

• Boy Tokwa courting his future wife with this bagung-bagong pick-up line: “Remember M, remember E, put them together, remember ME!”

• Millennial apo after the con man story: “In this house, we stan a generous low-low!”

• One of the Sotto kids on the phone with his mom (Karel Marquez): “Sometimes I like talking to Siri more than talking to you!”

• Girlfriend to one of the Sotto kids: “The stars shine so bright, but if you take a closer look, they burn deep inside… just like you.”

Repeat after me: Anak ng tokwa!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Advertisements

HAUNTED FOREST (Ian Loreños, 2017)

94B94CC4-E810-47A4-A63D-9C072DA90633

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Haunted Forest:

1. This movie is shaping up to be one of the worst movies of 2017 so I will just provide a blow-by-blow so that you can all save your money. Obviously, spoilers ahead.

2. So the first twenty minutes consisted of a gagamba running after a taong grasa played by Jerald Napoles. As the resident baliw, he was blamed for the death of a woman hanging from a tree even if obvious naman na hindi niya kaya magpulupot ng thick branches ng puno (can anyone?).

3. Raymart Santiago and his bitchy daughter Jane Oineza went to the province for vacation (or prolly to do some soul-searching) after the death of his cancer-stricken wife. They stayed at the house of Maris Racal and Beverly Salviejo (and it’s a mystery how she’s related to them).

4. All the women in town are fond of wearing white kamison while strolling the haunted forest at night. Yes, this is a Mother Lily-produced movie.

5.

Maris: Di naman ako mahilig sa social media kaya ok lang kahit walang signal sa bahay.

Maris after looking at Jane’s iPhone: Uy, add mo naman ako diyan!!

6. Joey Marquez plays a cop with a habit of hitting suspects at will. I’d like to say that his character’s trapped in a Pinoy 90s sitcom, but he very much seems to fit right in the current police force.

7. Ok, mukhang gorilla yung killer.

8. Sample conflict…

Maris: Naku, naiwan ang bawang! Paano ako maggigisa nito?

9. Sumakay si Jane sa dimples ni Jameson Blake para balikan ang naiwang bawang. Kaso naaubutan sila ng malakas na ulan. Walang silong kaya basang-basa sila. Sabay labas si Jameson ng panyo.

Jameson: Eto, punasan na lang kita.

Seryoso??!

10. Kanina umihi sina Joey at Raymart sa gilid ng kalsada. Ngayon naman umiihi si Jane sa damuhan. Eh kaya kayo minumulto kasi di kayo marunong magpasintabi sa mga nuno. Mga bastos!

11. One sequence looked like the director was just having fun with a Snapchat filter. Hihihi!

12. Hirap ng role ni Jane. Her character fainted for the fourth time already. On the other hand, it’s the third time I’m trying not to fall asleep.

13. I probably would have been more scared of Myrtle Sarrosa’s dead character if she didn’t look like she was wearing the wrong shade of foundation and just forgot to brush her hair.

14. So the sitsit was supposed to eat Jane, but changed his mind when he saw Raymart. May sensual wagging of the tongue involved pa. Should we consider this as a step forward for equal representation of the LGBTQ community in local cinema?

15. So ayun na nga dinukot na ng sitsit ang gusto niyang dukutin kay Raymart. Tegi.

16. Everyone knew the tree where the sitsit lived but the townspeople decided to do a prayover around it instead. Nobody bothered to burn or cut it down. Until today.

17.

Jane to sitsit: Hoy! Magpakita kita!

After magpakita…

Everyone: Takbooooooo!!

Tengene.

18. Ayan happy ending na for Jane. Masaya siya kasi kahit napatay ng sitsit ang tatay niya nagka-lovelife naman siya sa probinsiya. Hindi na nga naman masama.

The end. Leche.

19. Ay buti di ako agad umalis. May mid-credits sequence. Buhay pa ang sitsit at lumipat sa katawan ng bangkero. Ready for a sequel kaso mukhang flop. Paano na?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 3, 2018.)

THROUGH NIGHT & DAY (Veronica Velasco, 2018)

078F0B95-AF68-4747-B27F-E0F30318ED40

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Through Night and Day:

1. I used to have an Entertainment Weekly subscription when the magazine only cost around Php100 (it’s now priced at Php400!!). One of my favorite film critics there was Lisa Schwarzbaum and although we would usually have opposing views (she had the audacity to call Fight Club “dumb” and even gave it a D grade), I enjoyed her brutal (read: honest) opinions.

I was reminded so much of her Pay It Forward review which she described as a “shameless cliché of emotional and physical damage”. I couldn’t understand her hate back then because I was a sobbing mess by the end of that film. After watching this JaMill in Iceland travelogue turned manipulative tearjerker, I finally got it. Some movies would simply throw in a last minute trope (an accident, death, cancer) that appealed to the most basic sentiments and hope that the audience would equate their reaction of crying to quality. As a sucker for three hankie weepies who would bawl my eyes out while watching a Jollibee Christmas ad, I have had enough of this type of emotional manipulation.

2. The movie started off okay as it followed this annoying couple (Alessandra de Rossi as Jen and Paolo Contis as Ben) who had been together for thirteen years deciding to finally have an out of the country trip. It was supposedly the real test of their relationship (oh just wait until you guys actually lived together) because travelling would bring out the worst in people (as seen in every season with couples in The Amazing Race). Their country of choice was Iceland probably because it was a new destination for a Pinoy romcom and not a lot of people saw the fake-looking Aurora Borealis in the Piolo Pascual-Yen Santos snoozefest Northern Lights: A Journey To Love.

They rented a van without any insurance (a sign of an impending accident), complained about the exorbitant food prices (a trip to a local 7-11 cost them almost Php4k), provided Kuya Kim trivia about the place (zero crime rate in the country), and bickered and fought and made up, and bickered and fought and made up, and bickered and fought and made up.

You know how when you’re single and you would simply glare at these irritating naglalandian couples in the corner of Starbucks while bitterly thinking “Maghihiwalay din kayo”? Exact same feeling. After the nth time of watching them fight over the pettiest things, I wished that they would just head home and never see each other again.

3. I must have wished really hard because they did break up over a lost passport and a missed return flight. She was fire and he was ice (their words, not mine) and they just weren’t MFEO. I was already good with that ending (hey, a one hour travelogue for a Php190 movie ticket in Festival Mall wasn’t all bad) but then it decided to jump three years later with Ben already engaged to another girl and Jen all bald and suffering from a brain tumor. Why? Why? Whyyyyy??

If two people weren’t meant to be, why should guilt be induced to prove that there wasn’t any love lost between them? Jen’s affliction was even used as a reason for her blatant irrationality (although it still didn’t support why she chose to wear her engagement ring on her middle finger just because of a bad manicure). Should I feel guilty about that as well?

4. Even in her bad films, I couldn’t remember Alessandra de Rossi ever giving a terrible performance. She was always this sensitive actress able to transcend any material given to her (even crap like Spirit of the Glass). I couldn’t say the same for her work in the first two-thirds of this movie. Pabebe acting just didn’t suit her well (no to baby talk and girls trying to be cute by saying “Plith”).

Plus, she looked far too intelligent and decent to be groping tomatoes in a farm for a photo op and even spitting on the ground and contaminating all the pananim. After getting dumped over that missed flight, Jen asked “Dito talaga sa Iceland? Dito mo sasabihin na ayaw mo ako pakasalan? Kung saan ang ganda ng sky?” Huh?? And she even found humor in the situation when she screamed “I will stay here in my country! Not this country. This is not my country!”. I felt really, really bad for Alex.

Even worse, she shaved her head for this mess (fyi, she was a producer of this movie with a story and concept credit so it must be a passion project worthy of a buzz cut). Brave move, yes, but let’s not forget that Demi Moore also won a Worst Actress Razzie for her shaved head work in G.I. Jane.

Side note: That scar on the back of her head looked like a strip of Play Doh. Eek!

5. Paolo Contis fared a bit better because he always had this pilyo, pang-asar vibe even during his Ang TV days that was apt for the character of Ben. Most people would probably be surprised that he could cry a river (and believe me, there were enough tears in that final thirty minutes to solve our country’s Maynilad problems). Nothing new though if you were a huge fan of that Aga Muhlach-Dayanara Torres fantasy Basta’t Kasama Kita.

6. My favorite part of this movie was when Ben complained that Jen wasn’t “decently” dressed and since she was a devoted Christian saving herself for marriage, it was a problem for him not to feel horny beside her (“Wala namang utak ‘to. Tanga ‘to eh!” referring to his shrinkage-proof member that wasn’t affected at all by the freezing weather.) I immediately (sinfully) thought, “Well, maybe she should pray over his erection”. And she did. Bwahahaha!

(It was also interesting to note that Jen completely forgot her Christian ways after getting sick by forcing herself on Ben and basically trying to covet another person’s jowa.)

7. My least favorite part was when BenJen did a duet and sang the entire version of Gary Valenciano’s “I Will Be Here” while sobbing like there was no tomorrow (okay, bad pun because there really was no tomorrow for Jen).

I hated it because: 1) I had always been averse to that song ever since it was played in a good friend’s wake, 2) all the crying felt like one of those acting workshops where a mentor would make you remember the saddest memory and force you to weep for thirty minutes as a sign that you could act and cry on cue, and 3) they sang an entire song. Again, why? To give the audience enough time to cry along with them? Repeat after me: emotional manipulation.

Side note: The dark humor toward the end of the movie (the fake dying, Jen’s sudden outbursts, etc.) felt really off, too. The hilariously robotic delivery of that nurse about the re-occurrence of Jen’s condition didn’t help, either.

8. How did I know that I was completely unaffected by all the sadness onscreen? While the couple was singing that entire (it had to be noted, yet again) death song, my brain was focused on the fly perched on Joey Marquez’s left shoulder. Malungkot kaya yung langaw mag-isa?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

LAST NIGHT (Joyce Bernal, 2017)

97B3B3C7-CB5B-499F-A67B-4C556517878E

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Last Night:

1. Let me begin with an erratum on a glaring boo boo that I made when I posted my notes on Love You to the Stars and Back. I incorrectly identified the character of Julia Barretto as Carmina Salvador since I actually saw Last Night’s trailer prior to that movie.

Whether it was cinema fatigue or my inner cinephile that went bonkers upon hearing that film reference (that was the same name of Dawn Zulueta’s character in Hihintayin Kita sa Langit), I would like to apologize for the confusion that it caused especially to all the JoshLia fans that lost sleep over that inaccurate trivia.

2. We first see the real Carmina Salvador (Toni Gonzaga) dangling from a billboard on the side of the Jones Bridge after a botched suicide attempt. Her cry for help was noticed by Mark Peters (Piolo Pascual), who was also on a suicide mission at the said bridge. (Side note: Is this really a popular destination for depressed people in the Binondo/Ermita area? I’m really curious to know how many suicide cases have happened here within the last decade. Google wasn’t really helpful.) Anyway, they ended up helping one another and in the process also fell madly in love with each other. The end.

Well, not really. Of course there had to be a big twist because the screenplay seemed to have been built around that gimmick. In a reveal that would make M. Night Shyamalan curl up in a fetal position, Carmina actually turned out to be a ghost (she died in 1973 during Martial Law; naks, relevant!) that only appeared before Mark. Yes, he could see dead people (well, one dead person in the beginning and a few more towards the end of the movie). Eek!

3. I really wish the movie didn’t rely too much on the (obvious) twist so that it didn’t have to spend its final 30 minutes explaining everything (in washed-out flashbacks!) and feeling smart on how much it was able to fool the audience.

Aside from The Sixth Sense, most of the scenes that had Mark interacting with Carmina reminded me a lot of the “I Love You, Moo Moo” episode of the 90’s movie Tatlong Mukha ng Pag-ibig. My favorite scene there was when Tonton Gutierrez carried the ghost of his dead wife (played by Sharon Cuneta) inside their honeymoon suite while the caretaker (Leroy Salvador) watched in horror as his crazy amo flirted with an imaginary entity. I actually wondered if that straightforward format that wasn’t reliant on a twist would have made the story here much better (and less cornier).

Also, I’d actually need help in remembering another Hollywood/foreign movie about a living human being that communicated and fell in love with the spirit of a deceased person (something like Just Like Heaven, but not really). I wouldn’t want to be up for the next few nights.

4. Thirteen Reasons Why received a lot of flak for apparently romanticizing suicide and I kinda understood that perspective when I watched Mark and Carmina play cutesy with a blow dryer while they were inside a tub. Or when they fantasized on placing an aircon and a mattress on their backs before diving in a pool. Or when Carmina suggested “maligo sa dinuguan at magpakain sa shark” (huh?).

This made the shift in tone during the latter part of the movie even more jarring when it suddenly turned pro-life and started spreading a message of optimism and hope. All that was lacking in that final bubblegum bridge sequence was a dancing unicorn.

5. I was a huge fan of the Toni-Piolo pairing in Starting Over Again so I was a bit surprised at how much I was turned off by their performances here. Toni had her quirkiness turned up to its maximum level and she kept shouting her lines like she was still hosting Pinoy Big Brother (“Hello Philippines! Hello world!!”).

Piolo fared much better (as he was required to go topless yet again and shamelessly showed off his abs twice!), but he spent most of his scenes brooding and acting really stuck-up. Sayang, because I really missed this fun partnership.

6. At least the technical aspects were really commendable. Before Cathy Garcia-Molina, I think Joyce Bernal was the queen of rom-coms and she really tried to make the most out of the weak story here.

The movie also looked really good, very much like a glossy maindie. I also loved the song choices (except for one that sounded like it had Piolo singing).

7. I couldn’t get over the fact that Toni was the twin of Joey Marquez. And that Joey was named Ricardo Reyes. Yes, Ricky Reyes! Bwahahahaha!

Also, Carmina (whose real name’s Jennifer, btw) was actually a smart entrepreneur and influencer for bringing her new living friends to their family restaurant every single time. Shouldn’t it have been time for her to start a Twitter or Instagram account, though?

8. Burning questions:

• Why did an old soul like Carmina sound very much like a millennial? Also, why did she keep acting like she didn’t know that she was already dead? Diba audience lang naman may hindi alam?

• If she really wanted to prevent Mark from committing suicide, why did they spend most of their time trying to figure out how to die together? Did she only realize that after she fell in love with him?

• Did they play Bloody Crayons in one scene as a cross-promotion for Star Cinema movies?

• If nobody could see her, why didn’t anyone (except for the friend of dying lola) even ask who Mark was talking to? More chismis, more fun lang?

• Why did she kill herself after just seeing blood on the side of Jones Bridge (sure, her boyfriend was supposed to be there, so she automatically assumed that the blood was his)? Why, gurl, why?

• Paano sila maghihintayan sa langit if she’s stuck in limbo?

• If Carmina killed herself during Martial Law, why was her brother played by Patrick Sugui (shouldn’t he be like 40ish) and her mother was the still youthful Marina Benipayo? Were they also ghosts? Then why couldn’t they all see each other? Or was Patrick supposed to be the young Joey Marquez? Help!!

• Bakit kapag si Piolo ang nagsasabi ng “nangulangot” parang classy and sexy pa rin? Huhuhu!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

FINALLY FOUND SOMEONE (Theodore Boborol, 2017)

IMG_3624

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Finally Found Someone:

1. I knew something was wrong with this production as soon as the rumor came out that Star Cinema had to scrap sixteen days’ worth of filmed scenes and basically reshoot everything. Apparently, several spoiler-ish photos leaked online and ruined the entire story, or possible twist (ooh, very Game of Thrones!). After watching the entire thing, all I could think of was, This was the improved version?!

2. As a huge fan of the Laida-Miggy trilogy, I was happy that Star chose to give the Sarah Geronimo-John Lloyd Cruz tandem a fresh and new story…until I realized that there was nothing really fresh or new in this trope-filled mess. It felt like the creative team just gave up on the project and threw in every lazy detail that they could think of to come up with a finished product.

• “Eto bagong-bago. Kelangan more kilig so may habulan at batuhan ng harina!”

• “Oh my gosh, ang ganda! Tapos since nag-bake na ng cake eh magpahiran na rin sila ng icing! Awww!”

• “Guys, di pwedeng pa-cute lang dapat maiyak din ang mga tao. Eto as in naisip ko lang now, dagdagan kaya natin ng may sakit na nanay?”

• “Ay, don’t forget ang mga chuwariwap friends! Very important! Check mo na rin ang schedules nina Joey Marquez at Dennis Padilla for the tatay roles.”

• “Current and relevant din dapat so kelangan involved ang social media.”

• “Wait, nagamit na natin yan sa Dear Other Self, My Ex and Whys atsaka Vince & Kath & James diba?”

• “Eh di ulitin! Pati theme song na nagamit na sa Born for You nina Coco at Angeline i-recycle na rin.”

• “Yung hugot line ha wag kalimutan. Eto naisip ko, Love needs truth to be true.”

• “Eh why not, Does love need truth to be true or does truth need love to be true?”

• “Sakit sa ulo. Tulog na tayo.”

3. Raffy Sandoval? Why not Oliver Papa?

Anywho, I was just happy that John Lloyd was here because he made everything bearable, very much like a cinematic Rumpelstiltskin turning crappy scenes into pure gold with just his radiant smile (faney alert!). I would not be doing that Lungkot Kembot bit any time soon (unlike the Rain Dance that I perform before any out-of-the-country trip), but I’d always remember how sad it made me feel when he sobbed while making kembot near the BGC fountain.

And yes, I also shed a few tears in the scene where he opened up to his sick mother, but then I would probably cry watching him cry over a paper cut.

4. Lakas ng appeal ni Sarah to the older crowd. Was it because they could see the ideal and virtuous anak/apo in her? I watched this twice on opening day and there was always that one old person that would loudly say, “Ang galing ni Sarah!” or “Ang ganda ni Sarah!” (bias aside, I think everyone would agree that she looked really, really good here).

I just wish she was given a character that didn’t need to be too quirky to be funny. The clunky opening sequence alone didn’t do her any favors because it just looked too awkward (that ladder scene should have been saved for Toni Gonzaga).

Sarah fared much better when she wasn’t forced to act funny and her natural self would come out. Ever since Filipinas, I knew that she could effectively handle a dramatic role so I really loved that confrontation scene with Aprilyn saying, “Alam mo kung bakit ka tatanda mag-isa? Kasi takot ka magsabi ng totoong nararamdaman mo. Well, ako hindi. I’ve fallen in love with you.” Ang sakit! Bravo!!

5. I could feel the tension between the two when they recently guested in Gandang Gabi Vice and it was obvious as well in that Two Truths and a Lie kitchen scene. Whatever personal issues they had actually helped make that scene authentic and honest. (Now if only it didn’t stretch on forever…)

Pero iba pa rin talaga ang kilig ng AshLloyd. My favorite moment was the restaurant scene where John Lloyd said, “Meron special diyan. Wala sa menu. Nasa harap mo.” Like Sarah, I giggled like a schoolgirl.

6. It was sad to see recent Urian winner Christian Bables sounding like BFF Barbs acting all paminta to get near Lloydie. His talent was wasted on a thankless role that probably could have been saved by (trope alert!!) Janus del Prado or Ketchup Eusebio.

Also, what was up with that checkered polo and striped cardigan combo? Trisha definitely wouldn’t have approved.

7. As expected, product placements galore. What I found amusing was that we didn’t even need to see the brand of the pill that John Lloyd was handing over to (yet another) sick relative. Everyone assumed (knew!) it was Biogesic. Now that was an effective endorser.

8. So Aprilyn’s a pre-school teacher (and probably The Voice Kids coach given the incredibly high pitch of that Hello, Hello, Hello song), an Honesty Cookies baker, and a successful Hallmark card maker, samantala ako bum sa bahay. Okay.

9. Pet peeve: continuity issues. And this one just had too many from the changing lengths of Sarah’s hair to the missing icing stain on the back of John Lloyd’s shirt. My OCD self died a little.

10. Dear Future Star Cinema Rom-Com, if ever Sarah finally agrees to do a kissing scene by the time she’s 35, can you make sure it will be with John Lloyd, please? Goodbye drone shot!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MY EX AND WHYS (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2017)

img_1369

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on My Ex and Whys:

1. At the start of the movie, Cali (Liza Soberano) posted an interesting question on her BakitList blog: “Bakit ba ang tao kahit alam naman na masasaktan eh hindi nagsasawang magmahal?”. It was a universal thought that demanded a response and the movie’s biggest failure was that it never really tried to expound on its answer of “Mas tanga ang hindi magmahal.” Maybe Cali should have added another set of Whys on her list.

2. I would have to admit that I was very excited when this project was announced because I had always been a huge fan of the LizQuen loveteam and I deeply trusted the magic of Cathy Garcia-Molina. I really felt bad that the material didn’t live up to my lofty expectations in the same way that Dolce Amore started to disappoint me post-amnesia.

One of the strengths of this tandem was that they could stick to being pabebe and it wouldn’t come out as annoying. They easily reminded anyone of their youth, a time when it felt great to be wild and innocent and free and stupid and lovesick. But even better, they demonstrated in Everyday I Love You and Dolce Amore that they could deliver more as actors. They just needed a solid story to back them up and this wasn’t it.

3. Here’s my own list of Star Cinema tropes that they hopefully get rid off in future rom-coms (try to list all of the previous movies that had this, it would be fun!):

* One of the leads needed to work hard to support her low-to-middle class family that heavily depended on her

* Rain, lot and lots of rain, in slow motion, involving Enrique Gil (here as Gio)

* Greek chorus of BFFs that serve as one of the leads’ conscience/voice of reason/narrator of feelings

* Family of boys, and with Joey Marquez as the head of the clan and Joross as comic relief

* Contrived reason to shoot out of town/the country (this time in gorgeous Korea)

* Last minute dash to the airport before the penultimate professing of love (and possible kiss, stress on possible)

4. It was hard to empathize with Cali’s bitterness and hurt when we never really understood her love story with Gio. Nothing was shown after spending seven minutes (of heaven) with him. What made her love him aside from his promise of fidelity?

Also, her reason for breaking up with him felt completely trivial. She only heard a possible tryst over the phone and immediately broke up with him without hearing him out? Sure, she was traumatized by her cheating father but was that reason enough to let him go (especially since she knew he was drunk)?

Ang babaw girl! There are other worse reasons to break up with a cheating boyfriend. Minsan makikita mo na lang siya may ibang ka-date sa mall. Or may tatawag sa cellphone nya saying na miss na siya at mahal na mahal sya sobra. Or makikita mo ang messages ng landian sa Facebook inbox at yung last ay magkita sila sa isang club. I am not just my mistake mong mukha mo!! But I digress.

5. I wasn’t keen on the choice of using split screens especially since this style was closely associated with another popular loveteam. I was just happy that God Gave Me You never played in the background.

6. I really liked how the movie was unapologetic on its portrayal of gender differences. One person mentioned that it was innate for men to cheat (it’s just in their nature to be polygamous). Joey’s character was dating two women and the audience found it funny. Ara Mina’s character as the long-suffering mother of Cali on the other hand looked forgiving and bordered on being gaga. I just wished they were able to explore this further through Cali and Gio.

7. My favorite parts were elevated by such great performances. This was obviously Liza’s movie because she was just so good in every scene (lalo na kapag umiiyak wow lang ha), but the best one had her drunkenly putting down her guard and admitting her jealousy and unwavering feelings for Gio.

Enrique had less to do here although he delivered unli-charms whether he was taking a sad face picture (Hongkyuuuut!) or hilariously pretending not be seduced by a woman’s huge boobies.

Even Ryan Bang had his intentional and unintentional comic moments. Lakas ng tawa ko sa “Di mo alam dito sya mag-propose sa’yo? Oh ngayon alam mo na”. No wait, I laughed even harder in the “third wheel” joke. He was a standout in this movie.

8. I felt bad when one character verbalized that working as a call center agent was a thankless job. I felt worse (as a previous BPO manager) when Cali terminated a call even with an incredibly irate customer still talking on the other end of the line.

Speaking of jobs, I found it odd that Cali became an internet sensation given that she rarely blogged and most of her conversations with Gio looked like they happened on Twitter. Don’t even get me started on the dubious bag endorsement and book deal. I would believe that once I read The Untold Story of Bilog and Bunak biography.

9. “You give me hope…” played and the camera focused on Liza’s (yup, Hope’s) face. What a nice little touch!

10. For all my complaints, I still couldn’t deny that I felt like a giddy tweener during that faux proposal scene amidst a row of gingko trees. It was such a magical sight straight out of a Koreanovela. I would have also said yes.

Booking that trip to Korea in 3, 2, 1…

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

THIS TIME (Nuel Naval, 2016)

13124990_10154131082108544_3622483802939501321_n

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on This Time:

1. I could easily relate to Ava’s (Nadine Lustre) hate for summer. It was bad enough that the six-pack abs that I wished for last Christmas did not magically show up this month in time for Laboracay (I hate you Santa!), this was also my dreaded season of extreme sunshine and salty sweating. Her reason was completely different from mine, of course: her assumed childhood boyfriend Coby only visited (and left her) every summer, but hey, if James Reid (How to be you po?) were to spend time with anyone even for just a day, that person would be eternally thankful. Show some gratitude girl! (You didn’t even wish that from Santa!)

2. With a coffin on display in their sala and with the family living in a funeral home (named Buhay Funeral Homes, naturally), I got a lot of the Six Feet Under vibe. Except that Frances Conroy never really danced like a loon around a corpse (although she should have).

The dining table was right next to the sala and the family had what looked like dinuguan and bopis for lunch. I could never imagine myself eating dinuguan and bopis inside a funeral home. Wait, I could never imagine myself eating dinuguan and bopis. Period.

3. The Buhay Family was supposed to be funny, but they were just annoying. Candy Pangilinan who was spectacular in Star Na Si Van Damme Stallone resorted back to her irritating tics as a comedian with the belief that the louder she said her line, the funnier it would be. (Uh, no.) Also, why did these supporting characters always say supposedly funny lines in unison? Are we forever stuck with this kind of comedy?

4. Nadine was really playing Marcelo Santos III with all her endless hugot lines and empty platitudes on love and long-distance relationships. These were some of her groan-worthy bon mots:

• “Ang love ay parang traffic. Susuot ka kung saan-saan pero mararating mo rin ang destinasyon mo.”

• “Sa pagiging loyal ko nga dapat may loyalty card na ako na may points eh.”

Of course her loud and shrill friends (Ultimate Kakaibabe Donnalyn Bartolome, etc.) had to contribute their own terrible lines that included this classic:

“Ang relationship na walang label, parang damit sa ukay. Ang labo!” (Huh? Malabo yung damit sa ukay? Labhan mo kasi teh!)

4. Why did Ava really hate summer? Cue flashback. Include a lengthy story about Ava and Coby as kids because we terribly need a filler to support such a simple love story. Flashbacks should have a comic book effect. The Marvel-er, the better. Throw in the Snapchat filters because they’re so cool nowadays! Wait, we need a beach scene. Ok, sa Japan naman! When does this flashback end? What? End na ng movie? Ano ‘to ukay? Bakit ang labo?

5. The only ice cream that ever existed in this universe was Selecta Cornetto. I was surprised that it didn’t have its own major billing in the credits. It had a more substantial role (and acted better) than Bret Jackson, to be honest.

6. The first young boy that played James didn’t look like him at all. The teenage Nadine, on the other hand, looked exactly like her because it was really Nadine, only in pigtails, dressed in overalls, and acting immature.

7. I couldn’t actually recall crying over the break-up of celebrities. Hmm, okay, I think I teared up a bit when Kris Aquino broke it off with Joey Marquez, but only because my ears could only handle all the STD talk.

In this movie, we knew the passage of time because Ava cried every time a celebrity couple called it quits (Jen & Brad, Zac & Vanessa). Oh, and also because of the local history on popular diseases (H1N1). Fortunately, there was no mention of STD.

8. Full disclosure: I had never really liked a JaDine movie. Diary ng Panget was icky and that Talk Back one made me wish I were dead. I became an instant fan because of On The Wings of Love, where their scorching chemistry was in full display. It was still here in this movie, only it wasn’t given enough to really shine. A great love team could only do so much to salvage terrible material. The first kiss didn’t elicit any kilig, the pottery scene was a bore, and the final painting scene (while they were wearing white, que horror said my OCD self!) was pure umay.

9. For the first time in Philippine cinema history, I saw the brilliant Ronnie Lazaro struggle in a role and it was for playing a gay guy who loved dogs. How sad. Speaking of, if you know a bachelor with dogs that they call babies and you’re wondering why he’s still single…

10. If there was one thing that I really liked here, it was that sweet little sub-plot involving Nova Villa and Freddie Webb (reminiscent of their romance in 1st Ko Si 3rd, or if you’re way older Chicks to Chicks). Their love story set amidst the cherry blossoms was everything that this movie wanted to be.

11. “Ayoko na kausap ang monitor, ayoko na kayakap ang iPad, ayoko na ka-kiss ang cellphone.” This line made me sad. Only because this girl was really cray. Eh di wag mo gawin, girl!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆