MOVIE REVIEW: CAREGIVER (Chito Roño, 2008)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Mabilis talaga ako maiyak kapag tungkol sa OFW ang pelikula. Napakalungkot kasi isipin lahat ng mga sakripisyo nila matupad lang ang pangarap na magandang buhay para sa pamilya. Yung alam mong titiisin ang lahat (discrimination abroad, homesickness, extra work hours, downgrade sa trabaho) para kumita ng Pounds.

Hindi na bago ang story ni Sarah (Sharon Cuneta), isang magaling na English teacher sa Pilipinas na mas piniling magtrabaho bilang caregiver sa London dahil: 1) “mas malaki ang Pounds kesa Dollars” at syempre lalo na sa Pesos, at 2) yun ang utos ng asawang si Teddy (John Estrada). Nagustuhan ko na malaman ang meaning nito sa status ng kababaihan (married professionals or otherwise) sa ating bansa.

In one scene, pinapanood ni Sarah ang kanyang nanay na pinapaliguan ang kanilang lola. Sinasabi ba nito na lubos na maalaga ang mga babae? O nasa culture nating mga Pinoy ang pagiging mapagmahal sa mga nakakatanda? Kaya ba tayo right fit sa pagiging caregiver? Tumatak sa akin ang masaklap na juxtaposition na hindi man lang niya maalagaan ang lola niya (na hindi siya kilala dahil sa dementia) pero ganun mismo ang job requirement niya sa patients na hindi niya kaano-ano. Ang sakit sa puso.

Mahusay si Sharon dito. Mas gusto ko talaga kapag restrained ang atake niya sa pag-iyak (in peak form nung Madrasta). Ramdam mo yung hiya nung pinagtawanan siya ng isang estudyante na she’ll “make punas punas the pwet of older people there”. At halos masuka na din ako nung kelangan na nga niya magpunas ng pwet.

Sayang kasi nawalan ng direction ang story at naging melodramatic nung naging demonyo bigla si Ted at nung nag-focus sa relationship ni Sarah at Mr. Morgan. Kasi kahit ang dami nang OFW movies (like Anak), may iba pang topics sana na tinutukan (like yung subplot ni Jhong Hilario’s doctor turned nurse na nauwi sa illegal termination) to further show the OFW experience.

At least sa huli na-realize ni Sarah na mas importante ang kanyang self-worth/self-love kesa sa gwapo niyang asawa. Yes, sana all.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: HENERAL LUNA (Jerrold Tarog, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Heneral Luna:

1. The disclaimer at the start of the movie was scary for two reasons: a) for a biopic slash historical epic, we don’t know the extent of cinematic license used in the movie, and b) indeed, a fictionalized history (or work of fiction inspired by true events?) doesn’t take away the fact that this is still a clear representation of the truth (both past and present).

2. Jerrold Tarog has always been a competent filmmaker. He’s the kind of director that can make a Shake Rattle and Roll episode end up better than most of the full-length Pinoy movies shown that year. (Also, watch Senior Year!!)

3. I think everyone will agree that the movie had one of the best ensemble casts in any Pinoy film. I loved how the receding hairline of Epy Quizon was put to good use as Apolinario Mabini. In terms of acting, Mon Confiado (as Emilio Aguinaldo) and Nonie Buencamino (as Felipe Buencamino) were clear standouts. I hope none of them show up in Felix Manalo or I will start getting confused.

4. One of the best lines in the movie:

“Para kayong mga birhen na naniniwala sa pag-ibig ng isang puta!!”

I wonder when I can deliver this line in real life.

5. I particularly liked the Manifest Destiny scene because it stirred up emotions that shouldn’t even be there in this day and age (I so hated the American soldiers that I almost swore off eating burgers.)

6. A lot of reviews have pointed out that the film is a farce. I guess I’m being a purist then because I still want my History lessons all serious and dramatic. The rich content of Philippine History alone will never be boring. I guess I just didn’t understand all the funny quips despite the current situations (hey, it’s just war, people are just getting blown up, let’s all be like Cesar Montano and throw a witty one-liner or two!).

7. I was happy to see Antonio Luna portrayed as a deeply flawed character (never liked biopics that glorify their subject matter) but did it go too far? I could barely remember him in History class and now all I could think of was that he’s no different from Anger in Inside Out. Just about everything seemed to irk him to no end and everyone around him just looked completely dumb or incompetent. John Arcilla was fine in the lead role but I kept imagining him invoking the spirit of Captain Jack Sparrow in every scene. I hate to say it but it bordered closely on caricature.

8. Did we really need that gratuitous head shot for shock value? If they were depicting the reality of war then why was Luna shown as someone invincible? He just kept saying his lines while walking close to enemy lines without getting hit. Maybe he had an agimat that we didn’t know of? (Was it the magical coin pouch that saved his life?)

9. In one scene, Luna was trying to talk to an American soldier and ended up saying something like, “Hulihin nyo na yan. Naubusan na ko ng Ingles” all for comic relief. I was surprised he didn’t just say “Nosebleed!”. Why didn’t they really get Montano for this role?

10. I remember one of my History teachers saying that when Rizal got shot, he tried to face the firing squad as a sign of pride and dignity. Is this correct? (I’m only asking because the Rizal here just waited to be shot at the back. Wait, that didn’t sound right.)

11. In another scene, Luna was strumming his guitar and he was shown to have perfectly polished nails. With this, I will always remember that even in trying times, one should never forget to have a manicure.

12. Why is Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata the song of choice for war flashback scenes? I first heard this used in Madrasta with Sharon Cuneta’s grandfather recalling the war with Japanese soldiers. (Ooh, I need to watch that again.)

13. Old people love hitting tables for emphasis. (If you’ve done that recently…)

14. The scene that I abhorred the most would have to be the one where Luna was killed and the movie turned into a comical Carlo J. Caparas movie. Luna was betrayed and stabbed and shot several times (and had a hole carved in his right eye) by Filipino soldiers and I should have been appalled and angry by the betrayal but I was instead preventing a huge fart from trying not to laugh. Sure, History books would say that he was stabbed 30 or so times and that he continued to flinch after his death but I’m sure it didn’t say that he was Fernando Poe, Jr. (or a horror movie villain that just won’t die).

15. I remember Aguinaldo getting a bad rap for apparently ordering the assassination of Andres Bonifacio. He was portrayed the exact same way here with fingers directly pointed at him for giving the directive on the ambush of Luna. I never knew our first President was such a villain. Has anything changed since then?

16. The burning flag scene in its entirety covered everything that the movie was trying to say in two hours. Such powerful imagery.

17. There’s a mid-credits sequence!! In the same way that Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo had a Heneral Luna teaser, this one hinted at a Gregorio del Pilar spin-off (meaning more Paulo Avelino!). Move over Marvel, we have our Pinoy superheroes!

18. How many times did I mention History?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published September 16, 2015.)

MOVIE REVIEW: UNEXPECTEDLY YOURS (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2017)

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I think I just had a Classic Pare Titos and Titas of Manila moment while watching this movie since I couldn’t help myself from twitterpating (kilig lang yan, inartehan ko) over such a cute couple. Nope, not talking about JoshLia (even if Joshua Garcia and Julia Barretto were also really charming here). I was of course referring to the Sharon Cuneta-Robin Padilla love team that still showcased such palpable chemistry twenty five years after Maging Sino Ka Man.

I previously mentioned that I liked this combo much better than the Sharon-Gabby and Sharon-Richard pairing because the very Pinoy langit-lupa theme (and all the conflicts that stemmed from this social class gap) always made for great dramedy. It was even put to good use here because it was an older people romance straight out of the Nancy Meyers universe.

This should have been the comeback vehicle of Ate Shawie since her performance here just felt more relaxed and natural compared to the one in Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha. She displayed great comedic timing, especially while verbally sparring with Robin (mega kilig yung sagutan nila ng “Adik!” and “Sa’yo!” waaah!). Her controlled emotions during her dramatic moments were even reminiscent of her grand slam performance in Madrasta. I really liked the scene where she was crying out of self-pity (“Matanda na ako…”) because her realizations were genuinely painful to watch.

I wish the movie focused more on their romance since the JoshLia story actually served as a distraction. It would have worked still without their love angle since the young ones were so believable as their blood relatives (Julia as Sharon’s daughter and Joshua as Robin’s nephew). Also, all the millennial discussion including a cringey FGD just felt off. It had just as much insight about this generation as any episode of Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X.

Speaking of Julia, I was really surprised at how much she had continuously improved in terms of acting (even after her good work in Love You to the Stars and Back). She had this lovely scene with Sharon where she was telling her why she didn’t want to end up just like her mother and she definitely held her own against the Megastar. The Claudine comparisons would be inevitable, but with the right projects, she should be able to step out of her aunt’s shadow soon.

In one scene, Julia was wearing a shirt that had the word “MIST” on the right shoulder and “AKES” on the left side. I thought, “Wow, cool! A gay shirt saying that she’s a mist!”. It took me a full twenty seconds to realize that it actually spelled “mistakes”. Bwiset! Chalk that up to another Titos and Titas of Manila moment.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: WANTED: PERFECT MOTHER (Ike Jarlego, Jr., 1996)

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My notes on Wanted: Perfect Mother:

1. A strict father slash widower in need of someone to discipline his brats, er, kids hires a singing tutor slash nanny that teaches them the power of love, kindness, and respect through various song and dance production numbers.

Yes, this was The Sound of Music with Regine Velasquez sporting a faux-hawk and heart choker instead of a nun’s habit.

2. So much had changed in terms of child-rearing within the last few decades. There were several scenes here where adults would use force to make the children follow their will (e.g. the yaya played by Tita Winnie Cordero would grab and pull a young girl who didn’t want to go to school). Today, these things would easily fall under child abuse (hello Bantay Bata!). Our elders were able to get away with a lot back then, no?

3. The dad (played by Christopher de Leon, naturally) felt the need to look for a mother to his kids because: a) he didn’t know what tie would match his suit, b) he always woke up to the sound of his kids screaming their lungs out, c) as one of his friends put it, “Kelangan mo maghanap ng matinong babae na mag-aalaga sa’yo”. Which all begged the question, did he really need a spouse or a maid?

(No wonder Tita Shawie threw a bitch fit in Madrasta: “You’re absolutely right. Yan lang ang tingin mo sa akin. Taga-handa ng isusuot mo, ng kakainin mo. Taga-ayos sa bahay mo. Taga-salo sa mga problema mo.” I guess some things never changed.)

4. One of the best things in watching these old movies was a look back at the fashion during that time. Some of my favorite looks here were the mosaic top and black leather pants (and the perennial heart choker, of course) worn by Regine in the audition scene, the black baby doll dress with zippered red lips on the breast area matched with tattered tights (her idea of sexy when the bar manager said that her show needed “konting landi”), the high-waisted pants worn by the guys (with the belt area way above the belly button), and Bobby Andrews’ head scarf which looked like a cross between Ms. Celia Rodriguez and Madam Auring. Noted for next year’s Halloween.

5. Bing Loyzaga (who else?) played the wicked third party signaled by the dark eye shadow that covered the entirety of her eyelids (as if her flaring nostrils weren’t a giveaway). She was supposedly the evil one because she was cultured (she took the kids to a museum and they found her entire explanation on national painters really boring), she had pit stains in one scene, and she got mad when the kids wanted her to peel the shrimp for them (also, when they requested for sukang may bawang as a substitute for lemon butter sauce). Apparently, the fondness for art and the idea of independence was too elitist and therefore not mother material.

6. There were so many unintentionally hilarious lines in the movie but these were my favorites:

• “Bakit ka bibili ng alarm clock eh sa gabi naman ang trabaho mo?” (Collective groan from BPO associates.)

• “Miss Barubal! Miss Barubal!!” (Regine calling her landlady because that was her actual name.)

• “Kilala mo ba si Mickey Mouse? Diba lagi siyang hinahabol ng pusa?” (Huh? Sino? Si Hello Kitty?)

• “Ang alam ko sa butter palaman lang yan sa tinapay eh.” (Another point against lemon butter sauce.)

• “Ang trabaho mo tutor lang meaning glorified alalay.” (That’s why it’s always important to check the job description before applying.)

7. Do you still remember Kim delos Santos? Raven Villanueva? Mumay Santiago? Graciaaa? Welcome to the oldies club!

8. There was one touching moment when the kids were talking about their fears of somebody replacing their real mom. The youngest one even cried, “Sana hindi na lang kinuha ni God si Mommy.” So many realistic issues here that could have been explored in a much better movie (see Madrasta).

9. I loved how Regine was like the Pied Piper who turned tantrum-throwing brats into obedient angels with just her magical voice, all the problems vanishing after every musical number. One rendition of You Are My Song (of course I sang along) resolved all the issues and they lived happily ever after.

10. Oh, and the movie’s last line was Christopher asking Regine to change her blue nail color. To match her pink maid’s uniform, perhaps?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆