SANTA SANTITA (Laurice Guillen, 2004)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Just imagine kung yung pinakamalandi mong bff nagising isang umaga with healing powers. At hindi lang siya basta pokpok version ni Elsa (Ate Guy, not Frozen) ha. More of Magdalena ikaw ay sawimpalad to Mama Mary real quick.

Ganun ang naging kapalaran ni Malen (Angelica Panganiban) dito. Nung una allergic siya sa simbahan at galit na galit sa nanay (Hilda Koronel) na nagdadasal kapalit ng donasyon. Tapos in a cruel twist of fate, naging instant prophet (ata kasi bigla siya nagsuot ng costume ng mga jakono) slash faith healer siya. Sa sobrang lakas niya humiling sa pagdadasal, inakala ng jowa-jowaan niya na si Mike (Jericho Rosales) na kaya niya buhayin ang namatay nitong anak na nabubulok na pero nakakunot pa rin ang noo.

Blatant ang influence ng Himala dito. Sayang lang kasi wala masyadong nasabi ang pelikula. May konting sundot about the hypocrisy of Catholics (tulad nung mga chismosang Titas of Quiapo na nagsabi na binababoy ni Malen ang simbahan for wearing her Freeway outfits with plunging necklines and short skirts pero more paninira naman sa isa’t isa to get prayer customers).

Easy target pa naman ang religion sa mga ganitong klaseng pelikula pero parang natakot siya mabansagang makasalanan. Bagay na bagay pa naman kay Angelica ang Madonna-whore role (she wasn’t Rubi for nothing). Sana mas na-explore pa yung confused feelings niya regarding that dichotomy. Para que pa na nagkaron siya (or at least visions) ng stigmata diba?

And speaking of, naalala ko tuloy bigla si Bianca Lapus na hinihimatay tuwing may interview dati tapos dumudugo bigla ang mga palad. Medyo bata pa ako nun (wew) pero I really didn’t fall for that publicity stunt. After her fifteen minutes of fame, ayun she went the way of the infamous Judiel Nieva. Tama si Ate Guy all along. Wala talagang himala.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

CIRCA (Adolf Alix, Jr., 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Bilib na bilib ako kay Ms. Anita Linda dito. More than double my age na siya (she’s almost 95!!) pero alam pa rin niya lahat ng mga lines niya dito as the incredibly rich film producer Doña Atang na nakatira sa bahay ni Lola Nidora. Samantala ako hindi ko na maalala minsan saan ko naipatong ang cellphone ko. Iba talaga kapag batikang artista. Totoong walang kupas!!

Napaka-appropriate lang na kasama ito sa Sine Sandaan section ng PPP. May pagka-love letter siya to Philippine Cinema with all the juicy tidbits on the history of local film productions/filmmaking (shooting processes, crucial role ng lagarista, yung diva attitude of certain celebrities, yung rivalry nung mga stars of the golden age, etc.) tapos may mga sundot pa sa current industry (nakakatawa yung sinabi ng character ni Alessandra de Rossi na di na uso ang quality films ngayon kaya puro TV work na lang, na “mouth to mouth” duguan levels ang paggawa).

Mahilig talaga sa all-star cast si Alix (parang halos kalahati ng local film industry may cameo dun sa last movie niya na Madilim ang Gabi) kaya di naman ako nagulat sa mga bigating artista dito kabilang na sina Gina Alajar, Elizabeth Oropesa, Laurice Guillen, Ricky Davao, Liza Lorena, Perla Bautista, etc. Nakakalungkot din makita si Eddie Garcia in full Manoy glory. (Pero kasama ba sa original script yung “Ingat ka baka ka madapa?”. Grabe yung gasp ko sa part na yun nag-echo sa buong theater bilang ako lang ang nanunuod.)

Pinaka-natuwa ako kay Jaclyn Jose dito as the mayordoma of the house. Walang dramatic highlights (except for that weird Amour moment) pero markado ang pagganap. Lakas ng tawa ko nung nag-advocate siya for DVD piracy considering na nagsisilbi siya sa isang producer. Sabagay yung isang character nga sinabi na “Di naman ako namimirata ng local. Puro English lang, makabawi man kang kasi sila ang dahilan bakit tayo humina.” Hmm, magandang topic yan for discussion ha.

Marami siguro ang mababagalan sa pacing ng pelikula pero ok naman siya for me. Medyo mahaba lang at repetitive yung tribute section sa party scene. Pero sobrang fascinated talaga ako in all things na local showbiz kaya nagandahan ako (siguro ang litmus test would be if kaya mo ma-distinguish ang difference ng FAMAS at FAP statues, then this one’s for you). Natuwa din ako dun sa tikbalang na inaalayan ng ponkan kapalit ng box office returns (Mother Lily, what’s your secret?).

Basta sobrang affected ako dito. Nung nag-start na si Doña Atang ng speech niya with “Ang buhay natin ay parang pelikula…”, naluha na lang ako bigla.

Rating: ★★★★☆

MADILIM ANG GABI (Adolf Alix, Jr., 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Poverty porn? War on drugs? Shaky cam? The only reason why this wasn’t a Brillante Mendoza film was because of its anti-DDS view. In lieu of the infamous fishball scene of Ma’ Rosa, this had Gina Alajar (great as always) eating a bowl of kwek kwek.

I spent majority of the time shouting the name of every celebrity that showed up every few minutes for their 30-second cameo. Zanjoe Marudo! Laurice Guillen! Iza Calzado! Flora Gasser!! Divine Tetay!!!

If the message of the movie wasn’t obvious enough, a character had to state “Masama na ang panahon. Sana nakikinig sila. Hindi hayop ang pinatay nila: isang anak, kapatid, mahal sa buhay, kamag-anak!!” Wew.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 15, 2018.)

MAN AND WIFE (Laurice Guillen, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Para akong pumasok sa portal ni Dr. Strange tapos bumalik ako sa late ‘80s at nanood ng prehistoric na mala-teleseryeng pelikulang ito sa Alabang Twin Cinema. (FYI: It was loosely based on Gulong ng Palad.)

Ang main problem ni Jodi Sta. Maria dito eh sunud-sunuran siya sa mister niya. Seryoso? Itatakwil siya ng Gabriela for sure. Jusko very dated ng tema kaya pala si Gabby Concepcion ang kinuhang mister niya.

In one scene, Jodi was having a shouting match with her sister. Their mother (Amy Austria) intervened and broke a piggy bank in front of them (“Nag-aaway kayo dahil sa pera? Ayan ubusin n’yo!!”). It was supposed to be a dramatic moment but all I could think of was, “Ubusin alin? Yung mga barya??”.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

KUNG MANGARAP KA’T MAGISING (Mike De Leon, 1977)

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Taob ang tambalang Baguio nina Bujoy at Ned dito kina Ana at Joey.

Ang ganda ganda ganda ni Hilda Koronel. Ang sikip sikip sikip ng pantalon ni Christopher de Leon (as in bellbottoms na balls-hugging/splitting sa itaas tapos mega flared sa legs). Ang husay ng supporting cast. Pinakapaborito ko sina Laurice Guillen as Dimples Romana and Bibeth Orteza as Nikki Valdez.

Ang linis ng love story. Meron silang ibang mga problema sa buhay pero pinakita lang sa ilang eksena. Naka-focus talaga ang kwento sa bawal nilang pag-iibigan.

Usapan habang nanonood:

“Ay, andyan pala ang APO Hiking Society. Pero bakit wala si Jim Paredes?”

“Malamang kasi dilawan siya.”

Rating: ★★★★☆

MANO PO 7: CHINOY (Ian Loreños, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Mano Po 7: Chinoy:

1. ‪I learned two Chinese words in college that would appropriately describe my viewing experience of this movie. Yes, both are nasty curse words.

I suddenly missed the glory days of Regal Films when it rightfully earned that crown in its bright red “R” logo (shown in their ’90s OBB that resembled a horror movie) and it wasn’t reliant on a tired franchise that just seemed to get worse with every new sequel. Seriously, the Mano Po series would be no different from an inaamag na tikoy.‬

2. I had high hopes for this one since Ian Loreños directed one of my favorite films of 2012, the father-son drama slash human trafficking cautionary tale Alagwa. I remember sobbing hysterically by the end of that movie and taking a mental note that I would never leave any child unattended ever. It was that powerful. I wondered what happened with this one. The only reason I could think of was that it was rushed to ensure a slot in the MMFF. Such a waste of talent.

3. For a Chinoy movie, there was nothing distinctly Chinoy about the problems of this family. The stories here could very well have been another family drama with all-Pinoy characters directed by Laurice Guillen.

It was a disaster from the moment Enchong Dee (as the black sheep) made a grand entrance in his parents’ 25th anniversary party. That scene was no different from the first Mano Po with Ara Mina disrupting the engagement party of sister Maricel Soriano by showing up in a backless dress with the cut dropping all the way to her butt crack (that’s how you do it, Enchong).

4. Good news: At least we didn’t get actors donning exaggerated chinky eyes and speaking in weird Chinoy accents that bordered on being racist.

Bad news: Except for the veteran greats like Jean Garcia (looking very much like the lovely Michelle Yeoh) and Eric Quizon (such an underrated actor), the rest of the Chinoy cast seemed to have been chosen because they looked the part even if they couldn’t act the part.

The worst offender was Sir Chief Richard Yap who only displayed two types of emotions in the entire movie: furious with matching nanlilisik na mata and shocked with matching nanlilisik na mata. He displayed more range playing the chef in that Chowking commercial.

5. Rose Po Que? Really? Didn’t these Chinese name jokes peak during the Bubble Gang era?

6. Sir Chief’s character was supposed to be cold and uptight because he had a damaged childhood. His mother was so strict that she wouldn’t let him play in the street with the other kids. In effect, he wouldn’t let his wife join him in bed without cleaning up first after a long day at work. But wait, wasn’t that the first rule of hygiene regardless?

7. Several scenes were spent on the rehab love story between Enchong and Jessy Mendiola (who probably watched Girl, Interrupted several times before taking on the role) but it really had no weight on the story, except to assert his masculinity and dismiss all the gay rumors.

8. I would probably go crazy the next time I see a board meeting where somebody would be presenting a pitch like “The higher the risk, the higher the reward” and everyone would be nodding their heads and smiling like it was Confucius talking and they were just blessed with his wisdom.

9. You knew immediately that Jake Cuenca’s character would be a villain because he looked so sleazy in a man bun. Besides, why would a customer like him confide to a Miladay jeweller like Jean after his fiancee broke up with him? Sabagay, kapag malungkot din ako ang unang tinatawagan ko ay ang alahera ng nanay ko.

10. I wouldn’t have been too harsh on this movie if there weren’t so many groan-worthy scenes (Enchong running after his father’s car while saying “Papa!”, Jake’s breakdown scene in the car, Enchong wailing in a van with an overdosed Jessy, “Gumising ka! Lumaban ka naman oh! Waaaah!”, Janella Salvador hugging Jean from behind and saying “Mama, don’t go!”, Marlo Mortel punching a maniac professor while screaming “We will report you and sue you for harassment!!”, and Sir Chief asking his estranged wife to dance as a gift to his daughter). Very much like airplanes, cinema seats should be equipped with barf bags, no?

11. In one scene, Sir Chief was jogging around Nuvali. He suddenly stopped and bent over and I really thought for a moment that it would turn out to be an ad for Flanax (he ended up having a Ventosa).

12. Bakit wala yun bunso sa Taiwan family trip? Kinulang sa budget?

13. Two hours and the movie still didn’t want to end. Siao siao!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆