HINDI TAYO PWEDE (Joel Lamangan, 2020)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Hindi Tayo Pwede:

1. Minsan napapaisip na lang ako kung seryoso ang Viva Films kapag sinasabi nito sa start ng mga pelikula niya na “Proudly Presents”. Kasi nung natapos ko panoorin ang kababalaghan na ‘to, considering na attached ang mga pangalan ng Philippine Cinema luminaries like Direk Joel Lamangan and Sir Ricky Lee sa project, nagtaka talaga ako kung saang part sila proud.

Napakalayo nito from being a future classic tulad ng City After Dark at Maynila Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag na nakapaskil ang posters sa kwarto ni Gabby (Lovi Poe). Apparently as a frustrated director slash writer, may taste siya sa local films kaya rin kasama ang mga larawan ng The Flor Contemplacion Story at Himala. Gusto ko yung lantarang pagbubuhat ng Lamangan/Lee tandem ng sariling bangko (check n’yo na lang ang credits ng dalawang pelikula sa IMDB).

2. First scene pa lang ni Lovi lumabas na agad siya na naka-(Bench Body?) underwear kasi alam ng filmmakers kung ano ang totoong selling point ng gawa nila (eh diba nga naka-topless yung tatlong bida sa movie poster with a promised threesome?). Hindi naman nagpatalo sina Tony Labrusca (as the boyfriend Gabriel, yes Gabby din oha destiny!) at Marco Gumabao (as the lovesick ”Besh” Dennis, as in Roldan). Paiksian ng swimming shorts at palakihan ng bukol ang labanan every time merong requisite pool scene (syempre!) at beach scene (syempre!).

Ang lakas ng tawa ko nung ni-top ni Lovi si Tony dun sa sex scene nila set to their theme song Never Ever Say Goodbye by Nonoy Zuñiga. Why that song choice ba? Hindi naman sila couple in their 60’s. At diba popular funeral song na ‘to?

3. Sabagay apt din pala ang kanta kasi patay na si Gabriel dito. Yup, hindi lang nasobrahan ng Mena cream si Tony sa poster.

(Side note: Grabe makasira ng mood ang direction dito. Pano yung sex scene na sinabi ko biglang naputol bago pa umabot sa chorus kaya ako na lang ang kumanta kahit ibang eksena na.)

4. Bago ang story kung hindi mo napanood ang early 90’s film na Ghost with Demi Moore and the late Patrick Swayze. Garapalan ang reference kaya meron din Oda Mae Brown dito in the form of a manghuhula named Madam Concha (played by the Vangie Labalan). Kabog si Ateng Whoopi Goldberg!!

Ang difference lang talaga ay directly nahahawakan at nakakausap ni Gabby si Gabriel na hindi na kelangan pa sumanib kay Madam Concha. I guess wise decision na rin siya kasi ayaw ko naman ata ng love scene between Lovi and Ms. Vangieeeeee.

5. Feeling ko naubusan ng budget for the visual effects (o nakalimutan na tuluyan ng director ang premise) kasi obviously gumagalaw naman ang mga bagay na nadidikitan ni Gabriel (like yung upuan at door tassels pag-walk out niya sa cubicle ni Madam Concha). Nasayang lang yung pag-emote nung isang extra na “Ooh ang lamig naman dito malakas ba ang aircon?”.

6. Favorite line ko yung kay Phoemela Barranda as an ad agency executive: “Bakit ang cheesy ng presentation mo? Cheese ba ang produkto?” (Gahd! Nasaan ang creativity boss? Bakit hindi na lang pizza or mac and cheese or sana ginawa mo man lang cheese platter diba?)

Second favorite ko yung exchange na ito…

Gabby to Dennis’ new jowa: “Nasungkit mo ang best friend ko!”

Dennis (feeling hurt): “Ginawa mo naman akong santol.”

(Yes Marco, we objectify you as a santol. At bakit ba laging nagmamakaawa ang characters niya na mahalin siya eh sure naman ako ang daming nakapila diyan?)

7. Bakit yung laging palabas sa sinehan nila eh mga lumang movies like Ate Shawie’s Ikaw? Naguluhan tuloy ako kung set ba sa 90’s ang pelikula. Kaya ba naka-tangga cut na bikini si Lovi nung umahon sa beach? Kaso modern naman ang surroundings like yung sa Citadines? Or may time jumps ba ako na na-miss kakatawa sa upuan ko?

And speaking of cinema, sana walang gumaya kay Gabriel who lacked basic theater etiquette at nag-propose talaga sa gitna ng isang screening. Kapag merong gumawa ng stunt na ito habang nanunuod ako ng A Quiet Place 2, sinasabi ko talaga merong bride na ikakasal with a missing ring finger.

8. “Dun lang namin na-realize na nakikita at nahahawakan ko lang si Gabriel dahil sa pagmamahal ko sa kanya. At ngayon na unti-unti nawawala ang pagmamahal na yun, unti-unti na din sya nawawala.”

Buti may explanation sa dulo kasi akala ko talaga nasobrahan lang ng Tide yung white shirt ni Gabriel.

9. Ipinakita sa ending na buntis si Gabby habang nakatayo sa puntod ni Gabriel. Kay Dennis ba yun or ghost baby nila ni Gabriel? I need answers pero ayoko na magbayad for a sequel huhu!

10. According to Sir Ricky (na uulitin ko, siya ang sumulat nito kaloka!), kalahati daw ng populasyon sa Pilipinas ay hindi pa nakaka-move on. Jusko kaya pala naghihirap ang bansa natin kasi puro lovelife ang inaatupag. Kaya din siguro hindi nauubos ang hugot films tulad nito.

Sabi nga ni Gabriel, “This is exactly why I hate Tagalog movies. Ang babaduy!”. Uhm… Let’s just say na nung nagtulak ng basurahan ang maintenance pagkatapos ng screening, akala ko kokolektahin din niya ang pelikulang ‘to.

P.S. Sorry walang threesome. Masakit talaga na pinagtagpo sina Tony at Marco pero di tinadhana.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

THE ANNULMENT (Mac Alejandre, 2019)

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Hiyang-hiya si Britney Spears sa pagka-toxic ng mag-asawang ‘to.

Grabe for a drama sobrang dami ng tawa ko lalo na nung nagbuhusan sila ng isang jug ng water before mag-kitchen sex tapos slo-mo focus sa basang-basang (wink, wink) chest ni Joem Bascon hahaha! Tapos nung sex scene inutusan niya si Lovi Poe na “Kagatin mo!” habang pababa si ate mo sa nipples at pototoy niya hahaha!

Lovi to Myrtle Sarrosa (who should probably stick to cosplaying): “Sino ka? Anong tawag nila sa’yo maliban sa kabit?” (Hello gurl di mo ba kilala si Ate Marya? Eh di kerida, mistress, number 2 are you facking my husband anuba!!)

Meron pa parang marital rape na biglang naging angry sex na puro hampasan (sa braso??) na napaisip ako kung malamok lang sa kwarto nila.

Best yung totoong sinabon ni Lovi ang likod ni Joem sa shower sex scene. Very realistic. At syempre hagalpak ako nung sumbatan na ng infidelity at tinanong ni ate kung “Sinasabon mo rin ba ang likod niya?”. Hahahahaha!!

But wait, hindi pa ako umaabot dun sa OA court scene na straight out of Ipaglaban Mo. Mas naiyak ako at na-bother na pinayagan ng judge yung ganung shade ng purple lipstick sa lawyer ni Lovi. I object!!

Sigurado ba talaga na hindi ito directed by Joel Lamangan?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

SANA DATI (Jerrold Tarog, 2013)

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A direct punch in the gut with a truly detestable lead character. Love never felt this honest.

Sana Dati was like finding a shoebox full of pictures, the perfectly-taken photographs telling a love story of strangers.

The movie was not made for judgemental people like myself. I just found it hard to sympathize with a selfish, discontented slut.

Given that, full credit goes to the effective performance of Lovi Poe, who looked every bit unhappy and trapped.

The supporting cast was good as well although Benjamin Alves (who looked good onscreen) proved to be the weakest link.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published August 1, 2013.)

THE SIGNIFICANT OTHER (Joel Lamangan, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Significant Other:

1. After a round of the most laughable sex that involved scenes of sweating backs, shaking thighs, and curling feet, Nicole (Erich Gonzales) asked Edward (Tom Rodriguez) about the status of their relationship. She wanted to put a label on it since she already said “I love you” to him on their first date, plus they had been making out for the longest time (the first being inside a car on an open field, next to a peeing kalabaw; how romantic!).

He could not give a straight answer since he was secretly married to supermodel Maxene (Lovi Poe) so with his signature constipated look, he assured her that she was his “significant other”. Not boyfriend-girlfriend, not boo, not sweetheart, not jowaers, not we’re-in-a-loving-relationship-since-we-had-sex-next-to-a-pissing-carabao, but just significant other.

Nicole, being the typical clueless kabit who had no self-respect and was devoid of any self-worth, lapped up his every word and reacted very much like the Sultan of Brunei just proposed to her. Gurl, since Edward was neither gay nor a millennial, being called a significant other was tantamount to being a kept woman. Yes, kerida, kabit, number two, mistress!! (Did I miss anything Terry?)

2. It was this kind of silliness that permeated throughout the entire movie:

• Where a candidate for a beauty pageant called Binibining Bacaycay fainted onstage and yet a talent agent was more concerned on recruiting her for a possible modelling career (shouldn’t someone be bringing her some Aceite de Manzanilla?).

• Where a high-profile dermatologist would use a flashlight for five seconds very much like a laser pointer to check a birthmark (fun fact: he called it a cafe au lait; do they also come in other fancy coffee names?) and immediately scheduled surgery to have it removed. One should also note that he was a complete pervert (he actually said the line, “Bibigyan kita ng gamot para mawala ang kati” and then promptly kissed the patient’s affected neck area after the laser treatment). Eww!!

• Where said high-profile dermatologist had an assistant nurse slash secretary whose main purpose was to sit at a desk armed with just a clipboard to welcome guests. No desktop computer, no laptop, not even a calendar or planner. Every appointment was on her magic clipboard. Where could I get one?

• Where a character said something like, “Wala nang mas gaganda pa sa bulaklak na niluto ng Diyos.” (Wait, bakit niluto ang bulaklak?)

• Where an extra delivered the line “Nicole, tinawagan ako ng nanay mo” then realized that she was a bit thirsty, asked for water while saying “Ako’y init na init na”, drank said glass of water, and without skipping a beat, repeated the exact same line “Nicole, tinawagan ako ng nanay mo”. Jusko!!

3. Speaking of lack of self-respect, there was a fashion show where Nicole and Maxene wore the latest Avel Bacudio wedding collection (sheer skirt over visible undergarments susmaryosep magagalit si Mother Butler!) and they took turns kissing Edward to stake their claim over him. It escalated into a slapping showdown and then a heated shouting match.

Nicole to Maxene: “I’m his significant other!!” (Like that actually meant shit.)

Edward: “Shhhhstop! Ssshhhhtop!!”

Maxene to Nicole: “Ginamit ka lang ng asawa ko bilang parausan!!” (The subtitles actually said: “You were just used by my husband as a pass time.”)

Avel Bacudio (played by Ricci Chan, the only actor here who was intentionally funny) then came out from backstage and started screaming (subtitles: “Are you finish? I, Avel Bacudio, is the star of this show!!”) and the two women had to regain their bearings and walked on the ramp again while the crowd cheered. Santissima santa!!

4. But wait, there’s more! When Maxene discovered that her husband was cheating, her first instinct was not to confront him, but instead to look at their happy family pictures and reminisce about the good ol’ times. More flashback while the theme song played. “I recall when you said that you would never leave me…” More hikbi. Dear Malabanan Services, please help because the amount of shit here is completely overflowing!!

5. Sample words of wisdom:

• “Yang kerida salot sa lipunan yan eh. Yan ang dapat tinotokhang!!”

• “Pag malaman ko lang sino ang babaeng yun, bubudburan ko ng asin para mawala ang kati!!”

• “Ikaw ang nagtulak sa kanya. Naghanap sya ng init sa puso.”

“Kahit anong sabihin mo kabit ka lang habang buhay!”

“At least ako ang pinili. Belat!” (I just added the belat part, but it wouldn’t feel out of place, right?)

6. After all the catfights and empty one-liners, the pervert, the negligent wife, and the kabit reconciled and became friends in the end. Because nothing screamed Pinoy soap opera more than a legal wife and a mistress winding up as mag-kumare for that requisite happy ending. “I’ll just keep on dreaming till my heartaches end…”

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

WOKE UP LIKE THIS (Joel Ferrer, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Woke Up Like This:

1. Aside from superhuman strength and the ability to time travel, one of my favorite fantasies was to swap bodies with a (popular) celebrity. I mean, who wouldn’t want to wake up looking like, say, Benjamin Alves? I’d have instant abs without having to cut down on that extra rice. Plus, I really wanted to know how it’d feel like to be ogled at while window shopping in SM Southmall.

Of course a part of that fantasy didn’t involve kissing my twin sister Julie Ann San Jose, because my life really wasn’t an episode of Game of Thrones.

2. I had seen one too many films that dealt with body swapping and this movie directly lifted scenes from most of them.

• Rob Schneider waking up in a silk lingerie and discovering in the bathroom that he lost his bigalow (and fainting afterwards)? Check.

• Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan trying to bump into each other hoping to shake up their souls enough to make them return to their original bodies? Check.

• Athlete Kevin Zegers acting really funny in a game since his body was inhabited by a girl? Check.

• Mean girl Rachel McAdams trying to stop making an expression happen? Check. (Wait, this wasn’t even a body swap movie. Oh well. They even had a scene where the villains were run over by a speeding vehicle. So not fetch.)

The blatant laziness would have been more forgivable if the copied scenes were actually funny, but they just weren’t (unless you find Vhong Navarro as Nando accidentally drinking his own urine hilarious).

3. Most of the jokes here felt really dated, like they came out of late 90’s Regal-early 00’s Star Cinema comedies. It had scenes where family members would always grab the food that Nando was supposed to eat (bakit kasi ayaw nya agad kagatin ang pandesal?), or to fool another character from receiving a kiss, he would point somewhere and say, “Uy, si John Lloyd!”, sabay takbo. And if it wasn’t obvious enough, his bff was Bayani Agbayani, doing the exact same schtick he had been doing since his Otso-Otso days when he would cry and whine like a modern day Bondying.

4. Suspension of disbelief would be a must in this type of comedy, but this one really pushed it to the limit. Family members and friends simply brushed off the apparent gender switch. Nando and Sabrina (Lovi Poe) went on with their normal lives in different bodies. And so we were treated to a makeover montage with Vhong donning different women’s clothes and having his ass crack waxed for a casting call. What?!

This type of craziness would have worked if the characterizations were at least consistent. In one scene, Lovi was taking a dump and Vhong asked, “May tubol?” (there’s absolutely no way that the posh Sabrina would say or even know something like that). In another, Vhong joined a beauty contest and couldn’t walk properly in heels (even in a man’s body, Sabrina would have rocked that runway).

If anything, at least Lovi was really game and felt more committed to her role, whether she was doing Babalu impressions or merely scratching her crotch.

5. Should I blame Serbis for the proliferation of these juvenile exploding pigsa jokes of late? Definitely swearing off anything cream-filled.

6. Too many corny extras in annoying roles. The OA yaya, the basketball commentator with his sock puppet, even the usually campy Dionne Monsanto was just trying way too hard.

7. Another mannequin challenge?! Eek!

8. To quote one of the characters: “Wag mo nga sabihin tae. Sabihin mo poo poo.” Ok, poo poo.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

THE ESCORT (Enzo Williams, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Escort:

1. In Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin, Gelli de Belen played a household help who owned a magical wardrobe full of expensive bikinis. She wore a different pair in every scene of the montage (set to the theme song, of course) with her making tampisaw under a raging waterfall or lying down the sandy beaches of Camiguin. She must have been employed in Ayala Alabang to be able to afford such a collection.

I wondered about the same thing here with Yassi (Lovi Poe), who wore the most fabulous outfits while working as a part-time waitress turned receptionist. Sure, there was mention that she would get paid handsomely for the desk job, but the upkeep was still very questionable (besides she was already wearing nice clothes prior to the makeover). The controversial bespoke white gown alone (read FashionPulis and get updated) must have cost her a fortune. Seriously, where should I send my resumé?

2. As someone completely fascinated with the dealings in Cafe Havana, my curiosity was piqued by the promise of an inside look at the escort service industry. Do rich men really pay to have an escort girlfriend in lavish private functions? How are they different from prostitutes? Since Yassi handled most of the girls’ bookings, does that make her their pimp? With the girls providing extra service, is the business even legal? Sadly, it didn’t really care much about these questions.

3. The movie’s justification for prostitution? “Lahat tayo nagbebenta ng parte ng katawan natin for a living.” Xyruz (Derek Ramsay) then provided examples, like how a doctor would use his brain to perform a surgery, or a painter would utilize his hands to create a masterpiece, or whatever crap he invented to get Yassi to sleep with him.

Jusko naman Xyruz, ganyan na ang spelling ng pangalan mo, ganyan pa ang logic mo! Aba, parang kahit magbenta ako ng kidney ko eh iba pa rin yun sa pagbebenta ng laman. What happened to just using a lame old pick-up line?

4. In Ex with Benefits, Coleen Garcia’s character slept with a dirty old dean so that Derek could take his revalida and graduate from college. In this one, Lovi agreed to sleep with a dirty old man (Christopher de Leon, in full ’00s Christopher de Leon mode) to cover Derek’s medical expenses. Why do these girls do the craziest things for him? Gaano ba talaga kalaki yan, Derek?

5. Tanduay product placement within the first two minutes of the movie. Also, every scene had an establishing shot with the sponsors’ names. One resort had its own montage that included drone shots of the place. Was this a world record in cinema shamelessness?

6. I was happy to see Dimples Romana as one of the escorts, giving hope to other plus-size women dreaming of becoming high-class hookers. She provided the much-needed comic relief, even if some of the jokes were just too weird. In one scene, she was served a birthday (Kink?) cake with boobs on top to which she said, “Blow ko na ba ‘to? Ang liit naman.” Huh?

One rape joke even bordered on being despicable (a girl found it funny that her father raped her after he learned the nature of her work). We’re supposed to laugh? Eww.

7. The escort service’s name was Luxe and a character described the business as “Bayad. Booking. Deal” which really reminded me of OLX (formerly Sulit.com).

8. This was reminiscent of the glossy, cheesy, sexy filth that pervaded in the late ’90s and required a good shower after viewing. There really wasn’t anything original here. Heck, even the villains wore black sando like bouncers.

9. This will most likely be remembered as the movie where a woman was so disgusted with herself for being so impure after losing her virginity that she actually uttered the lines, “Di na ako malinis. Di na ako karapat-dapat mahalin.” Hala bes, 2016 na ganyan ka pa mag-isip!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆