ON THE JOB (Erik Matti, 2013)

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A near flawless movie marred only by the weak performance of Gerald Anderson. He was a pussy in a group of roaring lions.

This was a smart and stylish thriller (it reminded me so much of The Departed) that left me depressed with the current state of local politics.

Aside from the skillful direction of Erik Matti, its cinematography and score made the film a cut above the usual Pinoy film noir.

Joel Torre gave a magnificent, towering performance. I admired all the restraint in his acting. Joey Marquez and Leo Martinez were also great.

Really sad to see Gerald in the central role, though. His stilted and phony delivery almost ruined the movie for me. Coco Martin wasn’t available?

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published September 8, 2013.)

MOVIE REVIEW: #EWANKOSAU SARANGHAEYO (Roman Perez, Jr., 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on #Ewankosau Saranghaeyo:

1. I remember watching Dawson’s Creek a decade ago and Dawson Leery was this amateur filmmaker who kept shooting these no-budget horror flicks. This movie looked and felt exactly like that. It wasn’t a horror movie but it very well could have been one.

2. Leo Martinez played the lead actor’s grandfather and he was supposedly a modern day Balagtas, spewing romantic and philosophical lines while riding a railway trolley. He was no different from Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice. In one scene, he staged a balagtasan face-off with local flip-toppers.

3. There were actually two recent Cinemalaya Best Supporting Actress winners in this movie. I felt really bad that this would forever be on their Wikipedia filmography.

4. In one clunky scene, three characters were talking loudly about another character who was painting just five feet away. The scene ended with this gem of a line, “Tara alis na tayo baka mapansin pa niya tayo.” Sigh.

5. Jon Lucas looked like Matteo Guidicelli. Why wasn’t he given the lead role instead? And what kind of parent would name their kid River Mondragon?

6. Francis Magundayao was a terrible actor and he had zero chemistry with Barbie Forteza. Even Forteza (great in Mariquina) felt limited by the bad screenplay. I guess it was hard for her to act when the highlight of the movie was her character mourning a dead pet chicken.

7. My favorite lines in the movie were:

• “Kung bibigyan ka ba ng pagkakataong maging malaya, hindi ka ba lilipad?” (No, she wasn’t talking to her dead pet chicken.)

• “Pahinga na tayo ha.”

“Ok, ikaw din.”

• After dancing with the prom king:

“Baste, gusto ko ikaw ang first dance ko.”

• “Pakiramdam ko nasa adaptation tayo ng Wattpad.” (One that should never have been published.)

• And this classic…

“May gamot ang kabobohan. Konting iodized salt lang solb na. Pero yang katangahan mo di ko alam kung sang botika mahahanap ang lunas.”

8. Of course, there was a key product placement in the movie. Thank you BNY, makers of Bunny Jeans!!

9. I’d definitely wear that mini-barong under a beaded blazer look in our next Christmas party.

10. I would never forget that scene where he tried to skateboard from Roxas Boulevard to the airport because of heavy traffic. Love indeed makes us do really crazy things.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 25, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: LOVE YOU TO THE STARS AND BACK (Antoinette Jadaone, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Love You to the Stars and Back:

1. As a kid, I believed everything that my mother told me. I would immediately take a shower after getting drenched in the rain to avoid getting pulmonya. I would forego that extra cup of rice during dinner lest I end up dying of bangungot. I never went to bed with wet hair because I didn’t want to wake up crazy and dragged all the way to the basement of Makati Med. I was proud of my huge ears because they meant that I would live a long life. I also ate an entire roasted lizard because it was supposedly a cure for my asthma.

I wasn’t surprised at all that young Mika (Julia Barretto) swallowed up all the alien talk of her soon-to-be-departed mother (Carmina Villarroel). I mean it would be nice to believe that E.T. (yes, as in “E.T., phone home!”) would one day abduct me and bring me to the stars so I could observe EDSA traffic from above. In Mika’s own words, “Walang imposible sa mundong ito. Kelangan mo lang maniwala.”

2. So Mika decided to look for aliens in Mt. Milagros (fictional place, right?) somewhere in Batangas and the very first thing she bought as supplies were…Choco Muchos?! Please tell me this wasn’t a blatant product placement (similar to that succeeding Oppo selfie) and that she was really a junk food junkie. Also, would Sapporo now be considered the official beer of Pinoy love stories? Better luck next time Red Horse Litro.

3. Leo Martinez had always been the token Batangueño character in Pinoy cinema and his accent (read: punto) would always be played for laughs. I was happy to see a different version here represented by Caloy (Joshua Garcia, another true-blue Batangueño), but I wish he kept the accent all-throughout the film just for authenticity (sadly, the ones by the supporting cast were spotty at best).

Joshua made up for it though with such a strong performance that displayed his versatility. The John Lloyd Cruz comparisons made during Vince & Kath & James were even more obvious (and justified) here. Naiiyak ako habang pinapanood lang sya umiyak, whether he was telling the story of how his father abandoned them over a plate of tapang kalabaw, or peering through the gate while getting rejected by said dad, or calling his mom to assure her that he was okay. Nanay pa niya si Cherry Pie Picache so wag na umasang di ka maiyak.

(I think the only weakness of Joshua would be his fake laugh because, well, it felt fake. Bawi naman sa pa-karug. Har har.)

4. I loved how the characters here bonded over the grossest things, making them more human and their relationship more relatable. Their meet cute moment actually involved pooping and pissing in a talahiban (another mother’s advice: always say ‘tabi tabi po’ to prevent the wrath of a nuno) and since a significant part of the movie had them inside a car, I was happy when somebody actually farted (with a round of finger-pointing after, of course!).

5. Wait, so Caloy was sick and he decided that the best way to go from Lemery to Calaca (this would be like going from Southmall to MOA ba?) was on a bike?

6. The manong manok character was definitely me to millennials: “Ang babata n’yo pa, ang lalandi n’yo na!”

Mika was able to provide a good defense though: “Bakit kung uso na ang cellphone nung EDSA Revolution, hindi rin ba kayo mag-selfie?!” Touché!

(Another Titas of Manila moment: my brain kept screaming “Eyes on the road!” while they kept making landi in a moving vehicle. Ay josko ka!)

7. Goldie, their pet chicken, was left in the car while they ate lunch. Buti hindi naging Chickenjoy pagbalik nila.

8. I was never really fond of Julia because of her rumored kaartehan and perceived brattiness (I read a lot of FashionPulis, sorry!), but she definitely proved her mettle here. Not only did she look and sound very much like her Aunt Claudine, she actually acted the exact same way.

I especially liked her in that bridge scene where all of her emotions just felt raw and natural. Any lesser actress would have disappeared amidst the powerful presence of Joshua. She also had this really cute (albeit bittersweet) scene with Mika imagining that Caloy was still in the passenger seat. All it needed was her playfully saying, “Mukha kang chewing gum na masarap nguyain.”

9. Although it had elements similar to The Fault in our Stars (and even Your Name), the film overall was still distinctly Jadaone. Iba pa rin ang magic niya kapag usapang pag-ibig. She always knew the right blend of kilig and drama.

I really liked how this was able to differentiate itself from TFIOS by showing the ugly side of cancer. It would be hard to forget that heartbreaking scene with Caloy all covered in his own puke and blood, trying to pretend that nothing was wrong with him. Also, it had one of the most unromantic (pero damang-dama pa rin) declarations of love in cinema. Move over, Ansel and Shailene!

10. “Walang sigurado pero minsan kelangan mo lang maniwala.” I now believe in you, JoshLia. Elyen!!

Rating: ★★★★☆