MOVIE REVIEW: IT TAKES A MAN AND A WOMAN (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2013)

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Finds the perfect balance of drama & comedy making the love story more relatable.

It’s the first good film of 2013 and probably the best entry in the series. It just hit all the right emotions. The best thing about it though was that it took the love story to a whole new (and more real) level. You could see the growth in these characters. Direk Cathy Garcia-Molina knew the perfect blend of romance, humor, and sadness so it wasn’t hard not to empathize with the couple.

John Lloyd Cruz is still the best actor of this generation. He effectively conveyed a huge range of emotions through his flawed character. In the end though, this was still Sarah Geronimo’s movie. Experience had taught her well because you could actually feel her character’s heartbreak. This was her best performance to date. Her chemistry with JLC simply ignited the screen that you’d wonder why they weren’t offscreen lovers. Even the supporting cast from Joross Gamboa providing the laughs down to Isabelle Daza (surprise!) were all good. Irma Adlawan was divine.

Of course I’m watching it again this weekend. (And that ends my ITAMAAW rave for today.) Good morning!!

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published April 8, 2013.)

MOVIE REVIEW: 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: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: I LOVE YOU. THANK YOU. (Charliebebs Gohetia, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on I Love You. Thank You.:

1. I wasn’t exaggerating when I initially said that this movie felt as inauthentic as the overpriced Shrimp Tom Yum served in Mango Tree Bistro GB3. Although admirable for not indulging on gratuitous (and graphic) sex scenes that had become a common trait of Pinoy pink films, this one didn’t exactly feel like a gay movie.

The main couple Red and Ivan (played by Prince Stefan and CJ Reyes, respectively) who were supposedly in a relationship for four years never once kissed on the lips. On their anniversary, one of them kept saying “I love you here” before kissing a specific facial part of his partner (the forehead, the nose, the left cheek, the right cheek), but not on the lips. Even in bed, the most romantic thing they did was hug each other.

Was this just a long-term bromance? Or did these (supposedly) straight good-looking actors have a clause that they couldn’t do something that might ruin their careers and stereotype them in gay roles forever (ehem Martin Escudero)? It actually would have been more forgivable if they could act, but their every dialogue felt like they had constant bouts of constipation.

2. Do they really serve a drink called Sperm in Thailand? Everyone in that place seemed to like it and kept ordering one every time there was a bar scene. I tried to Google it, but the sperm cocktail that showed up would definitely be considered #NSFW.

3. In one scene, Paul (Joross Gamboa) was on a moving train and he decided to stick his head out the window to signal that he was carefree and ready for another adventure. Although it was a meet cute moment for Tang (Ae Pattawan, a budget JM de Guzman), it still triggered my travelling anxiety of getting locked up in a foreign country brought about by repeat viewings of Brokedown Palace.

Thank goodness for Joross though, because he was the only credible actor here (Pinoy or otherwise). Every inflection, flick of the wrist, or brush of his hair could have easily fallen under the gay stereotype but they just added a bit more nuance in his performance. Now about that excessive use of BB cream…

4. The hugot lines would either make you reflect about your love story and cry all the way home or (in my case) cringe in your seat and wish that you did not develop diabetes after hearing them. Sample dialogue:

• “May dalawang klase ng tao sa mundo: ang nagmamasid at ang minamasdan; ang umaalis at ang iniiwan.” (At ako ang pangatlong taong tumatawa habang nanunuod sa nagmamasid at minamasdan.)

• “I loved you first. I loved you even before Ivan loved you. And I loved you more even after he left you.” (Anong kamartyran yan, teh?)

• “Who goes through more pain: the one who went away or the one who is left behind?” (Malamang the one who is left behind kasi iniwan sya diba kasi yung the one who went away nakahanap na ng bago kahit di nya aminin yun ang totoo.)

• “I’m willing to wait for you until you’re healed.” (Tangaaaaa!!)

5. In a job interview for a wedding company, Paul mentioned that he wasn’t really good and that his friend was only exaggerating with his recommendation, but he would still try his best. The interviewer slash owner just said, “Ok, you promise?” and hired him on the spot. Ganun ba talaga kadali maghanap ng trabaho abroad? Wait, let me update my resume.

6. Why couldn’t we have smart and drama-free gay characters in films? I couldn’t understand why there were actually two habulan scenes here that ended up like scenic tours of Thailand. The funnier one was a supposed metaphor of the love triangle involving Red, Paul, and Tang, where they ran after each other (ala My Best Friend’s Wedding) passing through houses and roads and a bridge. It was intended to be serious and dramatic, but was clumsily shot and made me cry from laughter.

Speaking of love triangle metaphors that hit you right on the head, there was an actual photograph where Paul was looking at Red who was looking at Ivan (the only person staring at the camera). Totoo? May nagpapa-picture ng ganito?

7. If there was one moment that I really liked, it would be the ferry scene (wait, MBFW reference again?) where Tang grabbed the finger of Paul and wrote the Thai words “I love you” in the air. When Paul asked what that meant, Tang just smiled and said, “It means beautiful sunset”. Awww!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING (P.J. Hogan, 1997)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on My Best Friend’s Wedding:

1. Has it really been twenty years already since the psychopathic Jules (Julia Roberts) tried to sabotage her best friend’s wedding because she was deluded enough (hopelessly in love? What’s the diff?) into thinking that he preferred her Jell-O to Kimmy’s (Cameron Diaz) crème brulée? The answer was a glaring yes coming from the chunky cellular phones with long antennas (resembling pang-kaskas ng yelo!) that were used in this film.

2. That joyous I Say a Little Prayer sing-along would be the scene most remembered here, but I would always be partial to the frothy, silly opening title sequence with a bride and her three chuwariwap bridesmaids singing and dancing along to Ani Di Franco’s Wishin’ and Hopin’. It was just the perfect way to set the tone for this lighthearted (and surprisingly subversive) rom-com.

Additional tidbit: I owned a cassette tape copy of the soundtrack that I listened to every single day for about two months. How could you not fall in love with Jann Arden’s You Don’t Know Me, The Exciter’s Tell Him (pre-Ally McBeal), and Tony Bennett’s The Way You Look Tonight? Perfect wedding playlist.

3. I remembered making a similar pact with a friend that when we turned 30 (or was it 35?) and we were still both single, I would either marry her or have a kid with her. I was so happy when she found herself a boyfriend because I ended up having my baby juice all to myself. Wait, that sounded really disgusting (but not as much as picturing myself in a tux and getting married).

4. To this day, I still couldn’t see why these two beautiful women were fawning over Michael (Dermot Mulroney). He was just too bland and fickle-minded and unhygienic (never forget that he sucked that ring off of Jules’ finger; nope, not romantic because my head was screaming BOOGER!!, er, GERMS!!).

Seriously, everyone was probably rooting for George (Rupert Everett, snubbed of an Oscar nom!) to end up with Jules and wishin’ and hopin’ that he were straight because he had twice as much personality and just looked so fun to be with. Plus, I could easily see myself in George because I would be that kind of friend who would say things like “Who’s chasing you? Nobody. You’re not the one.” Brutal, but honest.

5. I really liked that Julia played a villain for a change (most of her shenanigans bordered on being criminal, and she was just a vile and selfish person), but because she was Julia Roberts, it was hard to completely hate her. Those pratfalls to earn laughs were completely unnecessary, though.

My favorite scene with her would be the one where she cried while dancing with Michael on a ferry (although I did tear up a bit as well during her maid of honor toast, she actually loaned her relationship song *sob* *sob*).

6. Always and forever #TeamKimmy, even if her wedding dress was horrible, especially when compared to the gorgeous lavender dress of Jules.

7. “Choose me. Marry me. Let me make you happy.” Did this sound familiar, Meredith Grey (or Momma Shonda Rhimes)?

8. If this were a Star Cinema movie, it would have probably ended with George (played by Joross Gamboa, of course!) realizing that he was actually straight and that he really loved Jules as more than a friend after all.

Goodbye Dionne Warwick, hello Marion Aunor!

Rating: ★★★★☆

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

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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 off 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: ★★☆☆☆