ALONE/TOGETHER (Antoinette Jadaone, 2019)

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Maganda ang first half. Daming feels ng idealist vs. realist concept. Sadly, yung second half got stuck sa conventions ng genre.

Pero sobrang galing ng LizQuen dito (especially Liza omg). This is their most mature (and best) film to date.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published February 13, 2019.)

THE BEST OF PINOY CINEMA 2019

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1. RICKY DAVAO (F#*@bois)
2. SOLIMAN CRUZ (Iska)
3. VANCE LARENA (Dead Kids)
4. JC SANTOS (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
5. JOEM BASCON (Write About Love)
6. JOHN ARCILLA (Miracle in Cell No. 7)

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1. TUESDAY VARGAS (LSS)
2. ANNA LUNA (Tayo sa Huling Buwan ng Taon)
3. JACLYN JOSE (Circa)
4. IANA BERNARDEZ (Metamorphosis)
5. ELORA ESPAÑO (Kalel, 15)
6. MERYLL SORIANO (Culion)

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1. ELIJAH CANLAS (Kalel, 15)
2. LOUISE ABUEL (Edward)
3. JANSEN MAGPUSAO (John Denver Trending)
4. CARLO AQUINO (Isa Pa, With Feelings)
5. GIO GAHOL (Sila Sila)
6. ROCCO NACINO (Write About Love)

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1. RUBY RUIZ (Iska)
2. MERYLL SORIANO (John Denver Trending)
3. JUDY ANN SANTOS (Mindanao)
4. ANGIE FERRO (Lola Igna)
5. SARAH GERONIMO (Unforgettable)
6. LIZA SOBERANO (Alone/Together)

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1. HEIST SCHOOL (Julius Renomeron, Jr.)
2. ANG GASGAS NA PLAKA NI LOLO BERT (Janina Gacosta, Cheska Marfori)
3. SA AMONG AGWAT (Don Senoc)
4. THE SLUMS (Jan Andrei Cobey)

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Written by: JUN LANA, KEAVY EUNICE VICENTE, ASH MALANUM
Directed by: JUN LANA, PERCI INTALAN

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Written by: CRISANTO AQUINO, JANYX REGALO
Directed by: CRISANTO AQUINO

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Written by: JADE CASTRO, SIEGE LEDESMA
Directed by: JADE CASTRO

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Written by: WANGGO GALLAGA, KOOKAI LABAYEN, DWEIN BALTAZAR
Directed by: ANDOY RANAY

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Written and directed by: ADOLF ALIX, JR.

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Written by: JEN CHUAUNSU, KOOKAI LABAYEN
Directed by: PRIME CRUZ

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Written by: THOP NAZARENO, JOHN PAUL BEDIA
Directed by: THOP NAZARENO

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Written and directed by: JUN LANA

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Written and directed by: ARDEN ROD CONDEZ

MABUHAY ANG PELIKULANG PILIPINO!!

 

THE BODYGUARD (Mick Jackson, 1992)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Magagalit sa ‘kin nanay ko kasi favorite niya ‘to. Pero this recent rewatch confirmed na it really failed as a romance flick kasi walang spark at all between Rachel (Whitney Houston) and Frank (Kevin Costner). Mas may chemistry pa si Tita Whitney sa microphone niya kaya masaya yung musical numbers.

So supposedly nanuod lang sila ng Yojimbo at nag-role play ng samurai eh mahal na nila agad isa’t-isa. Ito siguro yung movie equivalent ng Cheeze Whiz. (Ano nga ba yung Pinoy film na sobrang copy nito including yung pagbuhat after the assassination attempt? Parang kay Ate Shawie siya pero di ko maalala.)

Sayang kasi interesting pa naman si Rachel bilang Oscar winner (Best Actress talaga? Hahaha!!) at huge diva na mahilig mag-ukay ukay. Tapos dun sa obsessed fan plot eh naalala ko yung rabid na KathNiel na nag-threaten na sasabuyan ng acid sa mukha sina Liza at Nadine sa ABS CBN Ball.

Still one of the best film soundtracks, though. Syempre meron ang nanay ko na cassette tape na pinapatugtog niya every single day kaya memorized ko lahat ng kanta sa side A from I Will Always Love You to Jesus Loves Me. Eh di ending ako ang naging Queen of the Night. Chz.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

THE HONEYMOON TOUR (Ariana Grande, 2015)

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My notes on The Honeymoon Tour:

1. The MoA Arena was packed with screaming teen girls that I felt a bit irresponsible for bringing a cup of whiskey inside. I, along with very supportive parents, also probably raised the median age of the audience to 19.

2. Ariane Grande looked great in her trademark ponytail and Louboutin boots. She kicked off the night with Bang Bang and the crowd just went wild.

3. I’m happy to report that they didn’t allow iPads inside the arena. I still felt sad though that some girls would rather record the whole thing rather than dance and enjoy the concert. I swear one girl barely moved to prevent her video from shaking while I was going crazy dancing (and I use this term very loosely) to Hands on Me.

4. The crowd was too young to actually appreciate the Chaka Khan/Whitney Houston and Madonna medley of I’m Every Woman and Vogue. The parents truly loved that bit.

5. Except for 3 huge screens and the band, the stage was really bare. It was definitely no Katy Perry production. But I guess Ariana didn’t really have to compensate for anything.

6. Not a lot of costume changes, too. I think she had three outfits all throughout with a multitude of animal ears headbands.

7. Kathryn Bernardo (and her posse) pulled a Doris Bigornia and rushed to the very front of the stage as soon as the concert started and she was allowed to stay there because well, she’s the Teen Queen Kathryn Bernardo. At least Kim Chiu and Liza Soberano had the decency to stay in their seats. (But why am I complaining when I had Lower Box seats? Good seats btw. Get the ones on the far left/right of the stage and they’re actually closer than the back end Patron seats.)

8. It really paid off that I memorized her My Everything album prior to the show. I missed her Yours, Truly songs so I took a pee break (it’s a huge cup!) while everyone lit their cellphones on Tattooed Heart. Since I was already outside, I bought another cup for good measure. I gained a friend that night with Ate bartender.

9. Ariana’s voice was flawless last night. She sang Whitney’s I Have Nothing (no David Foster on the piano, though) and she didn’t miss a single note. She was so good that even if the screen behind her projected a fan that didn’t know the lyrics singing her heart out, it still couldn’t ruin the moment.

10. Most of the teen girls cheered whenever Ariana gyrated on stage and suggestively rubbed herself on her male dancers. My brain was in full oldie mode (“Ang mga kabataan talaga ngayon…”). Oh, and Andrea Brillantes was there as well as part of Kathryn’s posse.

11. The tap dancing intermission guy should get a much deserved bonus for trying his darn best to keep the momentum going while Ariana prepped for her next number. It barely worked but at least he tried.

12. When she started belting out Break Free one notch higher, I immediately knew that her voice was much better than Mariah’s in her prime. (Dear Lambs, please don’t kill me.)

13. If I had one complaint about the concert, it was really short and definitely bitin. It lasted an hour and a half although she was able to cover around twenty songs that included Best Mistake, Be My Baby, One Last Time, Love Me Harder and the encore Problem. I could listen to her all night. Then again, with that kind of energy and consistent belting, she’ll probably pass out after two hours.

14. People were carrying boxes of Krispy Kreme. For real.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published August 24, 2015.)

 

JUST THE WAY YOU ARE (Theodore Boborol, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Just The Way You Are:

1. Why does Star Cinema keep using the same font for their opening credits in almost all of their movies?

2. The movie began with Enrique Gil in full policeman uniform invading a teen party and stripping down to his bare bottom (boxers actually, but admit it you instantly decided to watch). Not complaining on that Magic Mike XXL primer at all.

3. So Enrique’s character loves to wear leather jackets in this kind of weather because I guess baskil is cool.

4. The first of the annoying blatant product placements (ABS-CBN Mobile) appeared in the first 15 minutes. The Generics Pharmacy, Alpine Sterilized Milk, and EO Optical followed every twenty minutes or so. These in-your-face commercials need to stop. (I loved the cameo of Ate Vi, though.)

5. I therefore conclude that an uglified Liza Soberano with thick eyebrows and braces still looks much better than 90% of our population during our best days.

6. If the movie had a makeover scene, it would have only lasted five seconds. Liza just needed a good tweezer to look like a goddess. Ang ganda ganda ganda ganda ganda niya. #kainggit

7. Yayo Aguila was really funny as the doting mom that still smelled the armpits of her teenage son. Who else could relate?

On the other hand, Sunshine Cruz was still looking gorgeous as ever. Really classy, too.

8. Enrique was obviously wearing shorts in the shower scene. It was a clunky setup with Liza entering and screaming. The exact same sequence was done much better in Bride for Rent.

9. The Case of the Disappearing Black Eye.

10. What is with this growing trend of “shout your feelings” scenes as catharsis in recent films? Enough please. Why can’t people just break stuff just like I do? Or just tweet them or post as a Facebook status.

11. Even with her twang (that sounded awkward during her Filipino lines), Liza actually proved that she’s a good actress. We can’t expect her to play the same Am-girl over and over, though so she needs to neutralize that accent. I can’t wait to see her in more serious roles.

12. “Sana hindi na lang tayo nagmamahal, no? Siguro hindi na rin tayo nasasaktan.” #hugot

13. Enrique is undeniably gwapo but he seriously needs a haircut. And get rid of the cheap highlights, please!!

14. Please Lord, sana hindi malason si Enrique ng milk tea!

15. Kinikilig ako! Juskopo! I’m too old for this!!

16. LizQuen is a winning combo. They’re both charming and they look really good together. Bagay sobra. I just wish they had better material. Chemistry can only do so much to save a movie.

17. “When you love, you always win. Kahit masaktan ka, may makukuha ka pa rin. Love will always leave you with a stronger heart.” #arayqbeh

18. Same old ending. I wish this love team will be given better projects in the future because it deserves much, much better than this derivative drivel.

19. I really love this no kissing clause. The constant teasing just makes it more kilig. Yun ang wala sa JaDine movies kasi laplapan sila nang laplapan lagi.

20. Why bother with a She’s All That remake when this was originally done in the Dingdong Dantes-Antoinette Taus cult classic, Kiss Mo Ko?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published June 18, 2015.)

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: ★★☆☆☆

NOW YOU SEE ME 2 (Jon Chu, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Now You See Me 2:

1. In Christopher Nolan’s vastly superior The Prestige, it was revealed that a magic trick consisted of three critical acts: The Pledge (where a magician shows you something ordinary, say an empty box), The Turn (where he creates something extraordinary out of it, like entering the box and disappearing), and The Prestige (where he ups the ante and completely stuns the audience, by suddenly appearing at the very back of the stage).

It would be very hard to successfully pull off this kind of magic now given the discerning minds that wanted to know how every trick was done and the countless Unmasking the Magician and Breaking the Magician’s Code episodes.

Some of us still wanted to be fooled, though, especially after the enjoyable first Now You See Me movie where The Four Horsemen pulled a literal million dollar stunt. Unfortunately, this sequel stopped trying after reaching The Turn.

2. Similar to watching a magic show, you know that you would have to suspend your disbelief for long stretches of time. You usually check your brain at the door and say goodbye to your Doubting Thomas self as soon as you enter the cinema. There is a limit to this, though, and that limit was completely abused here.

The worst sequence had to be the one where they kept throwing a card around while everyone around them (talk about a tight security) barely even noticed. It was elaborately designed to make the audience giddy with excitement and go “Ooooh!” at the end but that scene just flopped and I let out my trademark “Pfft!”. Mas pilit pa siya kesa sa Elmo Magalona and Janella Salvador loveteam tbh.

3. There were still some nifty bits (I particularly liked the sushi plate that turned into an attache case), but when the movie started explaining everything that happened (how the group ended up in Macau, for example) in the middle of the movie (!!!), it was just hard not to roll my eyes.

4. Lizzy Caplan would always be Janis Ian and I wasn’t sure why she was trying to act like Max Black (the broke waitress, not the philosopher) here. Kat Dennings wasn’t available?

5. Woody Harrelson stole every scene that he was in, especially as the curly twin brother who seemed lost in a 60’s time zone. I wouldn’t have complained if the movie focused on them instead of the tragic back story of Mark Ruffalo’s father.

6. I loved the Joy Luck Club film so I was pleasantly surprised to see Auntie Lindo (the wonderful Tsai Chin) being her Auntie Lindo self here. I could actually recite her lines from that movie still complete with her Chinese accent (“See hyeahhh…”). I suddenly remembered my favorite part in the book where another Chinese mother complained to her daughter about their nasty American male neighbor (“He raise his hand like this, show me his ugly fist and call me worst Fukien landlady. I not from Fukien. Hunh! He know nothing!”). Read the book, please!

7. So there’s really a champagne that’s worth $1.2M? Wow! If I owned one, I would probably be taking the smallest sips every other day so that it would last my entire lifetime. (Who am I kidding? I would probably keep it in our cabinet of wines where my mom stored all of my dad’s liquors that were never to be touched. I could swear we still have those Chivas Regal bottles that were placed there in the 80’s.)

8. That final airplane sequence was a complete mess. It was unoriginal, too, since it was first done to Paris Hilton in an Egyptian prank show. Says a lot about the movie, huh?

9. Daniel Radcliffe was looking more and more like the father of Liza Soberano in Dolce Amore. Also, all those years of studying magic in Hogwarts and he was still left clueless in the end. Hermione would be so disappointed. Tsk tsk!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

EVERYDAY I LOVE YOU (Mae Cruz-Alviar, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Everyday I Love You:

1. Let me start by saying that this movie was far from being groundbreaking. It was a simple and derivative love story that didn’t really deviate much from the Star Cinema rom-com formula. It successfully delivered on the promised kiligs, though, and I went out of the theater feeling like I was experiencing puppy love for the very first time again.

2. All the credit should go to the wonderful tandem of Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil. They saved a tired old plot straight out of While You Were Sleeping (loyalty vs love) just by continuously teasing each other and making googly eyes that made the entire theater swoon.

They were more than bagay. In my heart, they were really meant to be.

3. Dear Star Cinema, please let this be the last time that Enrique takes a video of an unsuspecting young woman. We do not support perverts (or uncouth leading men). Being rude to women is definitely not romantic.

4. I wish Bacolod would have had more exposure in the movie. Aside from the antique houses, the only other thing I learned was that they had a lot of sugar canes.

5. I also wish the transitions from scene to scene were much better. In the juxtaposition sequence of Liza crying beside a comatose Gerald Anderson and Enrique crying beside his dying father, people giggled endlessly (I’m guessing it was also because of Enrique’s atrocious haircut).

In another scene, Liza started with the line “Dun nagsimula ang kwento namin…” and as expected, the flashback scenes started. Groan.

6. Gerald was comatose for majority of the movie and he still managed to give a terrible performance. Ugh.

7. Liza was so good in that Silay Scooter Girl airport sequence. Star Cinema has found its new rom-com princess.

8. I really liked how Liza’s Tagalog twang was assumed as an Ilonggo accent. It actually worked and didn’t serve as a distraction.

9. The One More Chance references were blatant but effective still. Gerald’s character Tristan was also very controlling down to the chicken and hot sauce that Liza’s Audrey wanted to make papak.

At one point, Tristan even said, “Mas gusto ko nakapalda ka” all while wearing a tree outfit. Wake up, girl! Who would want to be tied up with this clueless control freak?

10. There was a Goldilocks mamon product placement that had to be mentioned. Too bad they already phased out McDonald’s Shake Shake fries.

11. “Mahirap kalabanin ang first love.” Do you agree?

12. I usually hate watching with noisy fantards. Except when I’m screaming along with them. Sobrang kilig ng LizQuen loveteam eh.

13. Finally, a Star Cinema movie with a title that actually made sense. When it was referenced in one scene, my heart died a little.

14. Doctor to Tristan: “It’s possible na ma-comatose ka ulit.”

Audience: “Ok lang po.”

Poor coma guy.

15. That Goodbye Silay Scooter Girl phone sequence.

Ang galing na umarte nina Liza and Enrique. Now I’m even more of a fan.

16. “Higit pa sa nagpapasaya sa’yo, piliin mo kung ano ang tama. And you can only do that if you’re honest with yourself.”

17. I repeat, “If it’s the right person, there’s no such thing as way too soon.”

18. SOBRANG GANDA NI LIZA SOBERANO!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published October 30, 2015.)