BORN BEAUTIFUL (Perci Intalan, 2019)

ede6b57d-8b45-4962-9804-64c039e12270

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Born Beautiful:

1. Originally planned as a series on Cignal TV, this spin-off of the 2016 critical hit (and a personal fave) Die Beautiful was supposedly the first five episodes of the show turned into a full-length feature. Although the decision was understandable given the material’s commercial appeal, this also served as its main weakness. The transition from TV to film resulted into some messy storytelling (several arcs felt stretched to fill an episode), underdeveloped characters, the lack of a clear resolution (a lot of people would definitely find the ending bitin), and some surface-level views on weighty issues. Even worse, we didn’t really get to know more about everyone’s favorite BFF Barbs, except that she made funny “arf arf arf” sounds during sex.

2. I was very disappointed that Christian Bables didn’t reprise his Urian-winning role because he would always be the Barbs that we deserved. It was such an effortless and lived-in performance that was sorely missing in this movie (plus the fact that the original relied on the wonderful chemistry between him and Paolo Ballesteros’ Trisha, who sadly only showed up here for a couple of scenes including a killer Mama Mary moment).

Martin del Rosario was fine as Barbs 2.0, but under all the wigs and make-up (and occasional tucking) it still felt like a committed Martin del Rosario playing Barbs 2.0. And would it be weird to say that he was just much too beautiful for the role? If Barbs (hello Taong Lego?) looked this gorgeous, then she wouldn’t be playing second fiddle to Trisha and would actually be winning all the beaucons instead.

3. While Die Beautiful presented a clear picture of Trisha’s character with her childhood dream of becoming a beauty queen, growing up in a homophobic household, and being subjected to all forms of abuse, this sequel focused on Barbs being torn between two men (and facing possible fatherhood). Medyo mababaw lang.

I would have wanted to learn more about Barbs’ personal life, including her goals and motivations, or how she coped up with her best friend’s death, or even how she learned (or what inspired) all those make-up transformations. I guess her new and improved face only merited a love triangle plot.

4. To be fair, there were still a lot of enjoyable (read: LOL) moments here. I found it smart that they were able to connect the Jamby quip in the first with Barbs’ identity confusion problems in this one (“Mukha kang tomboy na nag-aalok ng Bear Brand!”). I cackled with glee when she mentioned that Kim Kardashian’s look cost 3.5k and the 350 version was for Kim delos Santos. And should I feel guilty that I laughed at the sight of the stroke victim’s corpse and after Barbs covered it up with a Lady Gaga circa 2009 MTV Video Music Awards kukur look (“Mukha siyang malaking regla at ikaw ang pasador”)? Or that the beki friends recommended a Rihanna transformation for their other friend that died from electrocution (“Dahil lang sunog, kelangan na negra?”) and ended up with a Sia walis-tambo look (“Sia Pusit!”)? Maybe not.

The lamest humor came from the tired beauty pageant introduction segment. Seriously, how many more times should we hear that rehashed “Seventy-eight, seventy-nine, Haiti!” joke before it gets permanently banned in Pinoy queer cinema?

5. Aside from Barbs, the Michael Angelo 2.0 character had a nose lift that resulted to a face overhaul and was now played by Artista Academy’s Akihiro Blanco. It felt odd that he was one of the men fighting over her when he was the ex of Trisha in the first film.

Wait lang Barbs, tumulong ka sugurin ang karibal ni Trisha, tinawag mo na ahas, nakipagsabunutan sa parlor, pagkatapos tinalo mo rin sa dulo ang BFF mo? Hindi talaga lahat ng ahas nasa gubat. Yung iba nagtatrabaho sa Happy Endings Funeral Homes. (Kaya ka rin siguro laging minumulto ni Trisha! Malandi, haliparot, talipandas!)

From the rest of the supporting cast, I really loved Lou Veloso back as Mama Flora (“Ang gugulo n’yo. Mag-chupaan na lang tayong lahat!”), Joey Paras as one of the Way of Light pastors, and Chai Fonacier as the baby mama Yumi. What happened to the other beki BFFs from the first film, though?

6. I really appreciated some of the witty ways the film expressed its views on current issues like the death penalty (“People can change for the better”), gender neutral bathrooms, single-blessedness (“Hindi mo naman kelangan ng partner para maging reyna”), abortion, and open relationships. That entire conversion therapy bit was also brutal (literally and figuratively) that many overzealous faithful would probably get triggeredt.

7. In one scene, Yumi was graphically describing how she ended up getting pregnant through some vulgar words and hand movements. It was meant to be hilarious (and probably one of the movie’s highlights), but ended up getting completely ruined by all the bleeping (even the subtitles were censored!). Please note that the version I watched was already rated R-18, or For Adults Only by the tasked moral guardians.

I just found it funny that one of the promotional materials for this film commended the MTRCB for being “progressive”. Totoo ba? Saang banda?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Advertisements

LUMAYO KA NGA SA AKIN (Mark Meily, Andoy Ranay, Chris Martinez, 2016)

6884_10153836687918544_7078553065879461569_n

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin:

1. We usually see local parodies on gag shows like Bubble Gang or Banana Split, and in every Wenn Deramas movie so this one didn’t really have anything new to offer. It aimed to mock Philippine cinema tropes and the local moviegoing audience but didn’t tell us more than what we already knew.

2. My biggest problem with this movie was that it bordered on being mean-spirited. Several references were made on the Pinoy audience basically being stupid for loving the same old cliches in different genres (action, horror, and romance) and that anything outside of the norm would be an immediate flop. Sure, some of these observations may be factual but I still think that we’re much better than that. Was it really the audience’s fault if they enjoyed a good old formulaic movie? Weren’t the studios/producers to blame as well for churning out the same profit-driven product? Maybe this was an even bigger problem than the movie actually presented.

3. These were some of the lines that were supposed to be funny (wink, wink) but made me cringe a bit:

“Kelangan mo ikwento ang nangyayari sa audience kasi karamihan naman dyan…(wink)…” (I’m guessing they were going for tanga? Or in Cathy Garcia-Molina verse TANGA!!)

“Sabihan ang writer para di langawin. Ayaw ng audience ng bagong idea.”

“Hindi masyadong nakakaunawa ng English ang audience natin.”

Did the movie really think that it was smarter than its audience? And was this really specific to just the Pinoy audience?

4. On the flipside, did these observations hurt because they were true? Don’t we really love action films where people get killed in a wedding and it suddenly becomes a revenge flick? Don’t we enjoy the endless banter between the bida and kontrabida before the final shootout? Or the requisite sampalan scene during a tension-filled showdown between two women?

5. Very much like its poster, the movie was trying to be Scary Movie (1 to Sawa) except that it provided a broad look at Philippine Cinema instead of recreating scenes from specific movies. Funny enough, the episodic treatment was very similar to some of the movies it was trying to make fun of (Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang, Stupid Cupid, Tatlong Mukha ng Pag-ibig, please tell me you know them as well hehe).

6. The first episode by Mark Meily didn’t have a lot of new things to say about Pinoy action films. I did like the John Regala Kontrabida Instructional Video but everything else was just meh. To be fair, I laughed a bit when Candy Pangilinan said “Pwede bang Face of the Night na lang kasi walang kwenta na ang Best Actress ngayon?”

7. The second episode was a horror send-up of Shake, Rattle, and Roll (if you watched the three movies I mentioned above, all of them had their horror episodes as the middle one). Maricel Soriano’s love-it-or-hate-it performance was reminiscent of her acting in 90’s action-comedy movies with Cesar Montano, Bong Revilla, and Lito Lapid, among others, down to her usual adlib of “Pigilan mo ako naniningkit na ang mga mata ko!”. It was shrill and hyper and your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance for that brand of comedy (everyone knows how much I love her so you know where I stand). The rest of the jokes (the botched subtitles, night time exorcism, Bollywood production number, etc.) were okay at best.

8. I really liked Shy Carlos here. I wasn’t a fan of her performances in Para Sa Hopeless Romantic and Chain Mail but she really stood out here just for being the bitchy voice of the people (Maricel to Shy: “Minsan lang ‘to gumawa ng movie nagkaganyan na.” Haha!)

9. The best among the three episodes was definitely Chris Martinez’s Asawa ni Marie because it was just really funny. I rarely enjoy Cristine Reyes’ performances but she was so game here down to bobbing assorted items from the putikan (“Wala pong putikan saan nyo ako ilulublob?”). I instantly liked her as soon as she started prancing on the seashore (ala Marimar) along with her lifesize dog/mascot Yagit and let out a typical hagikgik.

10. The rest of the cast were good as well (Jayson Gainza as the dashing leading man, Jackie Lou Blanco as the matapobre haciendera, etc.) but it was Joey Paras who stood out as the submissive mother (yes, mother!) of Marie. From the moment he said “Senyorita, nagbalik po ba kayo para sabunutan ako ng walang dahilan?” up to the scene where he carried said senyorita back to the mansion, I was out of breath from laughing that I had to use my inhaler.

11. Did they use the same room that stood in as the US condo of Clark and Leah on On The Wings of Love?

12. Out of all the self-awareness present in the movie, the best line had to be in that scene where Cristine kept hawking faux products, “Pelikula na, patalastas pa? Tama, wala tayong delikadeza.” Now that’s one masigabong palakpakan na sampal sa industriya.

Ratings:

BALA SA BALA, KAMAO SA KAMAO, SATSAT SA SATSAT (Mark Meily) – ★★☆☆☆

SHAKE, SHAKER, SHAKEST (Andoy Ranay) – ★★☆☆☆

ASAWA NI MARIE (Chris Martinez) – ★★★★☆