YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN (Dennis Dugan, 2008)

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Silver lining: Glitter isn’t the worst Mariah Carey movie.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

METAMORPHOSIS (J.E. Tiglao, 2019)

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Wala naman ako masyado paki sa X-rating ng MTRCB kasi naabutan ko pa nung head sina Tito Manoling Morato and Lola Henrietta Mendez. Mas interested ako na tungkol ito sa isang intersex na di pa natatalakay ng lubusan sa local cinema.

Pero other than the on-the-nose metaphors (sino kaya ang gumagamit ng ganung diaphanous kumot na hindi kasali sa music video ni Tita Mariah?), parang wala rin naman siya masyado nasabi.

Di ko pa nagustuhan na very low-tier Joselito Altarejos ang feels dito. As in para akong si Tito Jo habang pinapanood ang extended (and hyped) masturbation scene. May mga predatory scenes pa na walang consequences.

Nakulangan ako kay Gold Azeron. Naalala ko ang isang young Diether Ocampo sa kanya. Buti magaling ang supporting cast lalo na sina Iana Bernardez (ganda nung bicycle scene at yung usap usap lang sa bintana) at Ricky Davao (praise the Lord!).

Bakit nga pala naging “There are many carabaos here” ang subtitle ng “Mukhang uulan”? Props for that Onang reference, though.

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.)

 

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (Michael Gracey, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Greatest Showman:

1. It had been over a year already and I still couldn’t forget the fabulous opening sequence of La La Land. Another Day of Sun fully encapsulated the reason why I really love musicals. I’d always imagine myself stuck along EDSA during Friday night rush hour traffic and I would get out of my car and burst into song while commuters inside cars and buses would sing a chorus and dance along with me. Why would there be any road rage when I could simply belt out my six octave range (bye Mariah!) and shimmy with the takatak boys? Our lives as a series of music videos would definitely be one sweet sweet fantasy, right?

2. As a musical, Showman was an enjoyable treat with its dazzling set pieces, spectacular choreography (that rooftop dance sequence with the dancing kumots!), and soaring sugar pop melodies. My favorite number was Rewrite the Stars with Zac Efron and Zendaya flying through the air on ropes, making it the most dangerous flirtation since I joined (and ultimately deleted) Tinder five years ago.

I also really liked the powerhouse performance of Rebecca Ferguson in Never Enough, until 1) I discovered that it really wasn’t her singing (it was actually dubbed by The Voice contestant Loren Allred), and 2) I realized immediately after that she was pining for a married man. In a culture fascinated with kabit movies where viewers enjoy seeing these women get their comeuppance, I wonder how many Pinoys actually loved this (in context) mistress song.

3. I wasn’t a huge fan of Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables (a singing Russell Crowe scarred me for life), but amidst the distractingly tight close-ups was an undeniably terrific performance by Hugh Jackman. He delivered again here as P.T. Barnum, serving as a ringleader to his troop of circus oddities and trying to stay true on the promise of being the greatest showman.

I actually liked him better in this movie because he was just more effective as a performer than a singer (check his Tony Awards hosting work on YouTube!). I also had a good laugh when the young Barnum got caught stealing a loaf of bread, the very reason why Jean Valjean turned into prisoner 24601.

4. I wish there was more of a story here to latch on to. Sure, I bawled my eyes out during the A Million Dreams song and also when the family moved into their mansion and one of the daughters received her ballet slippers, but everything else just felt very basic.

Did we really need two langit-lupa love stories when we didn’t even know much about the circus members (I couldn’t even recall any of their names!)? Even American Horror Story: Freak Show was able to bring life to its characters (sorry, but Kathy Bates would always be the Bearded Lady to me) and went beyond the “They’re humans, too!” message. When the group belted out the supposedly cathartic This Is Me song, it felt more like a production number on Glee rather than a poignant anthem about celebrating diversity.

Wait, did I just sound very much like a “theater critic who can’t find joy in a theater”?

5. I also felt a bit sad that the movie just glossed on some seemingly important topics, especially the one regarding exploitation. I wish we had more insights to this so-called celebration of humanity where people with disabilities weren’t treated any differently from animals in a zoo.

As a kid, I remembered going to a local perya and paying Php20 to watch a Lalaking Alimango (billed as a half-human, half-crab, but in reality was a man with underdeveloped arms and limbs and had pincer-like growths instead of fingers). I cried out of fear and also out of pity because they made him swim in this tub of dirty water.

I guess the idea of tackling freaks as entertainment was just too heavy for this movie that only aimed to be a feel-good one, ending with Jackman joyously riding an elephant in the city to meet his loving family. And after that, all was right with the world.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

ANG DALAWANG MRS. REYES (Jun Lana, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes:

1. In Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, the titular characters played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin were two oldish women that bonded together after the devastating discovery that their husbands were gay (and actually lovers). Although they initially wanted to break them apart, the series became less about their planned revenge and focused more on how they learned to accept the truth. It was a delightful comedy filled with interesting insights regarding the gay community and the people that surrounded them.

The same could be said about this latest offering from Star Cinema. Although it struggled a bit to find the right balance of comedy (went too broad for my taste) and drama (considering its serious themes), it was still a fun watch. By the end of the movie, I really wanted to see more of Lianne (Judy Ann Santos) and Cindy (Angelica Panganiban). Would they still fall for gay men? Would they have a deeper understanding of homosexuality? What if Lianne’s daughter Macy (Andrea Brillantes) came out as a lesbian?

Dear ABS-CBN, please give them the comedy series that they deserve.

2. Juday is Juday is Juday. Whether she was wiggling her newly-refurbished boobies or delivering a hazy rant while heavily-anesthesized, she was a complete hoot and basically nailed every scene that she was in.

In one of the best sequences, she skirted on the question if something happened between them and macho dancer with a heart of gold Steve (Nico Antonio) to which he replied, “Hindi ko po kayo pinagsamantalahan kasi parang tiyahin ko na rin po kayo”. It was already a hilarious moment made funnier when Juday simply quipped, “Gago ka pala eh sana pinagsamantalahan mo na lang kami.”

I was also happy to see that she still had an abundant supply of tears. It wasn’t hard to forgive her character’s vindictiveness since one could clearly see and feel her pain caused by her husband’s deception.

(Because of this reason, I chose to ignore the fact that a top cosmetics executive like her would serve Goldilocks pastries in a classy private event.)

3. On face value, I wouldn’t have thought that Gary (Joross Gamboa) was gay as well. Sure, he fainted upon seeing his wife floating in a pool of blood, but it could just have been hemophobia. Besides, no self-respecting gay person outside of Ru Paul’s back-up dancers would wear his blazer and khaki shorts combo for a yacht cruise.

Fresh from his Deadma Walking stint, it would be easy to assume that Joross was essentially playing the same role so it was a testament to his acting skills that he was able to differentiate Gary from John. He had a scene in Ma Mon Luk where his emotions shifted from guilt to sarcasm (“Gusto keteng sekten, gusto keteng peteyen…”) to regret to optimism in seconds and it was just a terrific performance.

(I had never been to Ma Mon Luk in Quiapo, but I would love to visit that place, if I could get a seat.)

4. For Jeannie Mai, yellow may be the color of joy and celebration, but I really think that it should be pink. I loved the abundance of that color here and every pink item (the envelope with the farewell note, the cat cage of Mimi, the highlighter used by Cindy) made my heart really happy.

5. Speaking of the farewell note, I couldn’t understand the lengthy sequence of Cindy taking an entire day to read what looked like a ten-page letter. Ganun ba sya kabagal magbasa (considering that her husband’s revelation of being gay was clearly on the first page)?

I was reminded of this other movie called Lila where Janine Gutierrez took a year to finish reading a haunted diary. Totoo ba?

6. I guess that was my other concern about this movie. Jun Lana had always been technically proficient in terms of staging his scenes. There was a natural rhythm in them and you would rarely see any abrupt transitions. This had one too many of them that would just end and shift to another unrelated sequence.

When the parents of Felix (JC de Vera) crashed his housewarming party, it ended with a friend (Kim Molina) saying that she was a babaeng bakla. The joke not only fell flat, but ended a scene that needed to be seen. Sadly, it was only mentioned in passing during the next one, the consequences and repercussions of that confrontation never fully discussed.

7. Oh, Mimi was the name of Felix’s cat. I bet all of my Sarah Geronimo autographed CDs that he also had an entire collection of Mariah Carey albums. (And sang Through the Rain in the shower, naturally.)

8. I really thought that Angelica could do this in her sleep, but she just wasn’t given enough funny material to work with. That Catwoman bit wasn’t as hilarious as Maricel Soriano’s in I Will Survive and her constant showdowns with Carmi Martin felt childish and really off-character. She even played second fiddle to Juday when she should have been very much her equal. At least she delivered in that cunnilingus scene that ended with a really silly meow.

9. JC de Vera felt lost in his role and sounded like he was in an elocution contest. Where was the sensitive actor that was so good in Best Partee Ever?

Fortunately, he wasn’t the most annoying character in the movie. I wasn’t sure how Quark Henares ended up with that private investigator role, but he might want to do the exact opposite of Joel Lamangan and stay behind the camera.

10. Juday referring to her boobs as Mara and Clara gave me so much life. Also, her takedown of Winnie the Pooh made me snort Pepsi out of my nostrils (“Pucha sinabi ng bear yun?”).

11. “How can I be homophobic? I have colleagues that are gay. Strong supporter ako ng LGBT community.” Definitely ripe for a teaching moment. But seriously, I wonder how women would really react if they found out that their boyfriends or husbands were gay? How would they cope with the said reality? Friends with the same experiences, time to share.

12. “Kung hindi pechay ko ang problema, anong problema natin?”

“I just don’t see myself growing old with you.”

Saklap. Hay.

13. By the way, pechay was translated as oysters in the subtitles. Was tahong too graphic for our imagination? And since we’re on the topic, after the screening, this group of women started loudly discussing what they would do if they found out that their husbands were gay. One of them said, “Ako, magpapalago ng pechay!”.

Ate, what did that even mean? Still, natakot ako ng slight at the thought of it.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE (Dan Villegas, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Always Be My Maybe:

1. This has been really bugging me ever since I heard the title: does it also remind you of Ate Mariah with a really clogged nose?

2. Even if I’m a Dan Villegas groupie (I liked all of the previous films that he directed), I was honestly prepared to hate this one simply because of my bias against Gerald Anderson. My Bebe Idol may have already moved on from her heartbreak, but I still haven’t forgiven the guy for his (supposed) philandering.

To be fair (to me), he was always the weakest link in good movies, like On the Job. I went inside the theater in full “Matitikman niya ang batas ng isang API!!” mode, already coming up with the best possible potshots. Boy, was I in for a surprise! As the dashing dumped gentleman named Jake, he was actually really good here (a huge improvement from his work in Everyday I Love You where he couldn’t even act as a guy in a coma). Titig pa lang niya matutunaw ka na. (Excuse me while I cry in a fetal position).

3. The film itself was a straightforward, light-hearted (real meaning of) romantic-comedy without a lot of cliched external conflicts. The lovebirds fell in love, they realized their true selves (one’s egotistic and the other one’s krungy, both with trust issues), and they tried to make the relationship work. There were no real third parties (hello, Gerald’s ex was a complete tuod), no typical family problems (dealing with class differences or sick parents), no career issues, etc. Everything just revolved on the “do these two people deserve each other” premise (or as one friend pointed out, “Ang simple lang ng problema nyo”). It was actually refreshing given the hugot-driven formula recently required by the genre.

4. All of the hugots were done for laughs by the wonderful Arci Munoz (as the crazy in love make-up artist Tintin) in her YouTube tutorials. Yes, she played a gorgeous MUA and we all know for a fact that most of them do look better than their celebrity clients.

Arci was scorching hot that I swear several gay men immediately forgot their Rebel Heart Tour experience as soon as she appeared onscreen. She had that beautiful alta look with a palengkera mouth (raise your hand if you suddenly thought of Marian Rivera) and matching babaeng bakla personality (as if her unicorn doll wasn’t enough of a giveaway). Also, best ASG look ever. Popoy, you were such an idiot for letting her go.

5. My favorite tip for single people on a first date: “Surface lang. Huwag mo muna ikwento yung MMK life mo.”

6. I was a bit confused when Jake showed his IG page to Tintin and his last picture with his ex showed “12 weeks ago” when he actually got dumped 6 months prior. Was that a relapse move or just a technical error?

Speaking of social media, is it true that girls are more likely to block and delete past relationships? Hey, I do that all the time!! Uhm…

7. Best use of Aegis’ Halik in a movie ever. Perfect timing. I cried laughing.

8. Tintin had an amazing set of friends in Esang (Kakai Bautista) and Andre (Ricci Chan). Kakai, as expected, was a perennial scene-stealer (best out of the blue line: “Ang dami mong utos, may patago ka?”, second best bit: the entire Wag Tularan si Tintin monologue) and Ricci has perfected the sensible gay best friend role. With friends like them, who needs a lovelife?

9. For a change, the lovers were not eating pares (if you’re a Jadaone/Villegas fanatic, you’d understand this one).

10. Shaira Luna may be a professional photographer now but she would always be the gifted Promil kid to me. Weirdly enough, I could barely recall her spiel about the human anatomy, but I always associated her with “The sun is the center of the solar system, moving around it are the planets” which was said by a different Promil kid. (FYI, I have always blamed my mom for letting me drink Nido instead of Promil and not ending up as the next Doogie Howser.)

11. I really liked the sensual photoshoot scene. Everything that Tintin said came out unintentionally funny (“Can you unzip me?”, “Anong gusto mo gawin ko?”) that if this were a Regal movie, she would definitely be removing a magic kamison.

12. Admit it, you’ve also done the wrong send technique. And when truly desperate, you would have resorted to a wrong dial as well.

13. Single friends, listen to Tintin. Always be “confidently beautiful with a wais heart”. Huwag laging hopia mani popcorn cough syrup expectorant. Char!!

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL “PUSH” BY SAPPHIRE (Lee Daniels, 2009)

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People that complain and whine a lot should watch this movie. Here’s a moving story about an obese girl that suffered physical and emotional abuse from everyone around her. The movie isn’t a typical tearjerker; it actually feels like real life.

Credit goes to the amazing Gabourey Sidibe who embodies Precious in all aspects that it would be hard to separate the actress from the character. The rest of the supporting cast that includes Mo’Nique (frightening and ferocious and so deserving of that Oscar), Paula Patton, and Mariah Carey (yes, that Mariah Carey!) all give phenomenal performances.

It’s heartbreaking and depressing yet surprisingly hopeful.

Rating: 5/5