MOVIE REVIEW: LSS (Jade Castro, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Huy, bakit parang Survivor: Redemption Island ang theme ng PPP this year? Similar to Andoy Ranay, wala akong maalala na nagustuhang film ni Jade Castro (even yung critically-acclaimed niya na Zombadings, which I found corny tbh). Tapos biglang bawing-bawi siya sa feels dito. Yung napa-wish ako na sana all-out musical siya kasi ang galing ng pagka-incorporate ng Ben&Ben songs sa critical moments ng film. (FYI, wala din akong alam na kanta nila except for Maybe the Night dahil sa Exes Baggage. Yup, kung single ako at may nakatabing cutie sa bus, mahihiya akong mag-discuss ng favorite songs kasi ang range ng taste ko ay The Search is Over at Sweet Soul Revue.)

Lakas ng star quality ni Gabbi Garcia. Granted mas magaling siya na singer kesa actress pero unang line pa lang ng pagkanta ni Sarah eh na-in love na ako agad. Naaalala ko sa kanya si Nikki Gil na very classy ang dating (although weirdly enough, may mga angles din siya na mala-Mocha Uson). Siguro yung conyo aura niya din ang reason bakit medyo off kapag inuulit niya yung “makapasok sa eksena” referring to the music scene. (Mapapansin yung difference kasi ganun magsalita yung character ni Iana Bernardez na sobrang natural dito.) Mental note here to watch more GMA shows.

Nakakaaliw ang relationship ni Zack (Khalil Ramos) at ng mega-supportive niyang nanay (an impressive Tuesday Vargas). Sobrang benta yung ride-sharing scene na may bugawan na naganap (“Di problema kung size queen ka!”) at yung eksena with the tissues (nakakatawa yung “Mabubulag ka sa ginagawa mo!”, although I also expected her to hand him a fresh box bilang very progressive ng character niya). Ang natural ng chemistry nila (Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin as mom’s film of choice was T A S T E) kaya dalang-dala din ako dun sa confrontation scene nila sa dulo (yung pagka-deliver pa lang ni Tuesday ng “Anak, wag dito” line already secured her much-deserved win).

I had some quibbles like yung dubbing nung Leaves sequence (bakit parang hindi sabay tapos iba yung words na sinasabi ni Gabbi sa audio at iba pa rin yun sa subtitles?). Natawa ako dun sa Kathang-Isip sequence (in a good way kasi masaya to see two broken people find comfort in each other) pero parang ang bilis naman nila mag-kiss agad (lalo na kung advocate si Zack ng three month rule ng One More Chance).

Nakulangan din ako sa acting ni Gabbi dun sa crucial scene (yung totoong highlight ng movie for me) na nagbigay siya ng surprise graduation gift sa brother niyang si Cedie (Elijah Canlas). Parang mata lang ni Lady Gaga sa A Star is Born. Yung lumuluha pero walang bakas ng totoong pain or hurt. Ang layo kay Elijah na napaiyak ako sa isang simpleng wince (halong guilt and realization that he was giving up on his dreams) bago sabihin na “Titigil na ako. Magbenta na lang tayo ng herbal products. Ate, sorry na”. Ang sakit sakit.

Ang ganda din siguro if na-explore fully yung art as passion vs sad practical reality theme. Napaisip ako kung ano kaya ang effect ng alternate ending kung naging full time sales agent siya habang todo successful ng kapatid niya. Siguro walang sappy ending montage to fulfill the demands of the genre.

As a cute and charming young romance flick though, it definitely hit the right notes. I’ll probably be humming these Ben&Ben tunes in the next few days.

Rating: ★★★★☆

MOVIE REVIEW: EXES BAGGAGE (Dan Villegas, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Exes Baggage:

1. In the movie As Good As It Gets, obsessive-compulsive Melvin (Jack Nicholson) professed his love to Carol (Helen Hunt) by saying one of the sweetest lines in film history, “You make me want to be a better man.” I remembered watching this in high school when my innocent heart had never experienced any real heartbreak yet. I gobbled up each word of that declaration with the belief that people would actually change themselves to win over (or win back) the person that they truly loved. I obviously didn’t know any better back then.

Through the years, I must have heard every single version of that promise. Changing for the better? Swearing to always remain faithful moving forward? Pledging undying love after endless second chances? Although there wasn’t any bitterness left for any of my exes after our failed relationships, my already jaded heart couldn’t hold still when Nix (Carlo Aquino) told his ex Pia (Angelica Panganiban), “Paulit-ulit kong isusugal ang puso ko maramdaman ko lang ulit kung anong meron tayo noon.” ULUL!! I expected her to say, “Narinig ko na yan, boy! Wag ako!!”, but this was still a Star Cinema movie after all.

2. I really liked how this was able to capture those awkward moments specific to recent exes (because after our hearts were fully healed, we would usually end up as good friends with them, right?). In one scene, Pia bumped into old married flame Migz (Joem Bascon) and I felt every uncomfortable minute of that encounter. I also used to run the other direction whenever I would see a recent ex heading my way in the mall (twice as fast if said ex was with a new jowa). I mean, what kind of small talk would we have? “Uy, ang gwapo ng ipinalit mo sa akin! Good job! High five!!”. Uhh, no thanks! Not everyone could be as strong as Angelica who even declared on national TV that she was willing to be a ninang to the baby of a recent ex. Tibay mo, gurl!

I also appreciated how it fully displayed all the insecurities that couples would feel whenever they start discussing their exes (especially when comparisons would come into play). No amount of self-confidence or belief on the strength of your relationship would go unscathed once the classic “Sinong mas minahal mo?” question comes up. Or even worse, “Nagustuhan mo lang ba ako para makalimutan sya?”.

(Side note: It was a bit understandable for Pia to feel insecure about Nix’s ex Dwein because she was played by the gorgeous and classy Coleen Garcia. Ibang level ang ganda ni Ate Gurl dito.)

3. I wish we knew more about Nix and Pia for us to fully root for their relationship. How could we say that these two people really loved each other when the only grand gesture we saw was Nix preparing her a romantic dinner? Sure, he was also a gentleman for not taking advantage of a drunk woman, but you wouldn’t go into a relationship with every decent guy you meet.

The thin plot mainly worked because of the undeniable chemistry of CarGel (that entire pretend dancing in the condo scene alone was worth the ticket price). I felt bad that Carlo got saddled with an unsympathetic, irrational (“Sana pinakilala mo ako ng maayos para di na sya nag-small talk sa’yo!”) character full of hang-ups, but he still made the most out of his role. And what was his problem with his girlfriend showing a little bit of cleavage? Insert Nadine Lustre sound bite here.

It was Angelica who really stood out though for embodying a perfectly flawed character who could be my best friend any day (even if she had the gall to ask Nix to take her home after a night of partying then drive her back to work immediately after). Her wonderful performance ranged from hilarious (“Gumising talaga ako para magising mo ako”) to heartbreaking (“Sanay naman ako. Sabihin mo lang talaga. Sanay na akong iniiwan”). I wanted to give her the tightest hug during the scene where she was packing her suitcase.

4. It was a bit funny how the Alamat ng Santol turned into the Alamat ng Werewolf in the subtitles pero naitawid naman. But I was more curious about that Alamat ng Bakla on Social Media and the belief that guys with more than fifty photos in their Facebook profile pic album were gay. But what if they only had five choice topless pa-delight and pa-abs pics? Asking for a desperate friend.

5. Best moment in the film for me:

When Pia offered to prepare breakfast and coffee for Dwein but she declined (di ata sya umiinom ng Great Taste White) which prompted Pia to say, “Meron naman akong dalang bibingka.” I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be hilarious, but I really laughed my head off.

6. “Ang takot magmahal after masaktan, di nagmahal in the first place. Kaya mo dapat pagdaanan ulit lahat ng pain at sakit para maramdaman ulit ang pagmamahal. Dapat ganun ang love, it overpowers pain.” O di sige Pianalyn, ikaw na ang matatag!!

7. Lovely cinematography. Of course I wondered why Pia would read under a green lamp/light, but I wouldn’t want that to ruin the movie’s aesthetics.

Also, first time to watch panties being removed while set to an indie soundtrack. Loved most of the songs though, especially Maybe the Night.

8. I teared up a bit when Nix started talking to Pia’s car, not because it was unfortunately named Ogie, but because he was making a last habilin to a non-living object to take care of this person that he truly loved. I thought it was the perfect sad ending to a relationship that was never meant to be.

But then Pia stepped out of her car, ignored the mystery man named Anton calling her, and implied a more hopeful ending. Tanga!! (Also, poor Anton.)

Rating: ★★★☆☆