FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW: MMFF 2019 SCORECARD

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Best Feature-Length Film

1. WRITE ABOUT LOVE (Crisanto Aquino) – ★★★★☆
2. MINDANAO (Brillante Mendoza) – ★★★☆☆
3. MIRACLE IN CELL NO. 7 (Nuel Naval) – ★★★☆☆
4. SUNOD (Carlo Ledesma) – ★★☆☆☆
5. CULION (Alvin Yapan) – ★★☆☆☆
6. MISSION UNSTAPABOL: THE DON IDENTITY (Michael Tuviera) – ★★☆☆☆
7. THE MALL, THE MERRIER (Barry Gonzalez) – ★☆☆☆☆
8. 3POL TROBOL: HULI KA BALBON! (Rodel Nacianceno) – ★☆☆☆☆

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

1. ROCCO NACINO (Write About Love)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

1. JUDY ANN SANTOS (Mindanao)
2. MILES OCAMPO (Write About Love)
3. CARMINA VILLARROEL (Sunod)
4. IZA CALZADO (Culion)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

1. JC SANTOS (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
2. JOEM BASCON (Write About Love)
3. JOHN ARCILLA (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
4. ALLEN DIZON (Mindanao)
5. JOJIT LORENZO (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
6. JOEL TORRE (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
7. MON CONFIADO (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
8. SOLIMAN CRUZ (Miracle in Cell No. 7)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

1. MERYLL SORIANO (Culion)
2. KRYSTAL BRIMNER (Sunod)
3. YUNA TANGOG (Mindanao)
4. JASMINE CURTIS-SMITH (Culion)

Until next year!!

MOVIE REVIEW: WRITE ABOUT LOVE (Crisanto Aquino, 2019)

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Probably the biggest surprise of this year’s festival. As in wala akong gana panoorin siya after ko makita ang trailer lalo pa at parang typical hugot romcom. Tapos mukhang Kuya and Bunso levels sina Rocco Nacino at Miles Ocampo (which the film smartly acknowledged). I was so happy to be proven wrong.

Ang lakas ng chemistry nung dalawa. Yung ayoko talaga ng sisig pero mukhang mapapakain ako sa sobrang kilig. Tapos magaling talaga sila pareho umarte. May kanya-kanyang dramatic highlights. Ganda ng pagkagamit sa trope na nasa parehong eksena sila ng mga creations nila.

Nagustuhan ko yung discussions tungkol sa thought processes nila as writers. Ang apt nung reference sa Trip to Quiapo ni Ricky Lee. Alam ko na may taste rin si Ms. Rom-Com kasi ilan sa mga paborito niya ay Got 2 Believe, One More Chance, at That Thing Called Tadhana.

May hawig siya sa Last Fool Show na pinalabas early this year with its stab at formulaic local romance flicks. Natawa ako sa Villegas-Jadaone reference, sa pelikulang “I’m Drunk, I Hate You” at sa pagsingit ng memorable hugot na “Mahal mo ba talaga ako o minahal mo lang ako?”.

Mahusay din dito sina Joem Bascon at kahit si Romnick Sarmenta in a small role. Ang only weak link ay si Yeng Constantino. Di na nga sya mukhang leading lady in a Star Cinema-ish movie tapos di pa marunong umiyak. Parang pinili lang siya kasi singer sa banda yung character nya so kelangan magaling kumanta. Sayang.

My favorite quotes:

• “Ganun naman ang love eh, minsan bullshit.” (Tapos napasubo na lang si Miles ng lettuce wrap haha!)

• “People who love are capable of hurting.” (Tagos!)

• “Nasa pag-revise kasi lumalabas ang ganda ng isinusulat.” (HAHAHAHAHA! Bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan ay pangit.)

Rating: ★★★★☆

MOVIE REVIEW: MALEDICTO (Mark Meily, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Maledicto:

1. It had been two days already and I still couldn’t get over the fact that I paid Php335 to watch this exorcism comedy. Ano bang masamang espiritu ang sumapi sa akin kahapon? Seriously, I could have used that money for a month’s worth of Netflix subscription so I wouldn’t need to leech off my bff’s account anymore. Besides, this was the kind of cheapie horror film meant to be seen on TV on a late Sunday night while battling a serious case of insomnia (an effective cure, for sure).

2. Tom Rodriguez (who might also be affected by Maynilad’s water shortage given his constantly constipated, hadn’t taken a dump in three days look) played Father Xavi, a psychiatrist turned priest (ooh career shift!) that didn’t believe in demonic possessions. As a man of science first, he assumed that there was always a logical, non-spiritual explanation on these supposed otherworldly events.

When asked to perform an exorcism on a possessed kid, the skeptic in him looked for signs that the boy was actually suffering from a medical condition. His initial diagnosis? “Madumi ang ngipin. Baka hindi lang nagsisipilyo.” Hek hek hek!!

3. In the late ‘80s, Phillip Salvador portrayed Father Balweg, a Catholic priest who founded the militant group Cordillera People’s Liberation Army. Father Xavi tried to one-up the said rebel priest by doing such un-holy, mej bad boy stuff like excessive drinking and smoking while playing a somber piece on his piano. His brashness was also evident when dealing with other people, like when he had this conversation with Sister Barbara (Jasmine Curtis-Smith):

Father Xavi: “Ok, I’ll help you, but I get to call you Barbie because your name’s boring.”

Sister Barbara turned Barbie: “Shige ne nge!”

Kaloka ka Sis!!

4. Non-sponsored plug: the screen in Evia was crystal clear and merited the exorbitant ticket price. The movie’s production team probably forgot that these cinemas exist though because in the first scene alone, the bruises on Mara’s (Inah de Belen) face looked like she just had too much fun with the Vice Cosmetics line.

Several scenes were noticeably out of focus and I just kept getting distracted by that hazy filter that blurred the edges in most frames. In terms of visual effects, I couldn’t determine where the swarm of flies came from in the scene where Mara had her mouth open ala The Mummy (parang they were just traumatized by her bad case of halitosis). And in what tacky club/bar would we see these ribbon strips dangling from the ceiling? Que horror!!

5. One of my favorite, laugh-out-loud moments was when Agnes (Miles Ocampo) chased an askal in this eskinita and then it turned on her and bit her. Sabay labas si Manang Sisa (Liza Lorena) who grabbed her bloody hand, looked at her palm, and said something like, “Gusto mo ba malaman sino ang magiging boyfriend mo?” and everything was just forgotten. Gurrrl, never heard of rabies?!

Side note: Agnes supposedly got possessed by the demonic doggie spirit so in the succeeding scene, she was shown wearing skimpy clothes and displayed her new goth look. Anak ng demonyo! Who made this movie? My grandmother?? (Or maybe it was just the rabies?)

6. First time to hear a voiceover while a character was flipping through a book: “Ahh, here it is!”.

Also, first time to see a person’s name crossed out during the end credits. Kawawa naman si Russel Remo.

7. During the exorcism, psychiatrist turned priest and probably turned chef Father Xavi started pouring mounds of salt around the bed. Hala, may balak pa ata siya gawing daing si Agnes! (But wait, wouldn’t her extended, wagging tongue make a better lengua instead?)

8. So there was a sub-plot slash twist about the Church’s cover-up on demonic possessions by equating them with drug use related to a coven of witches with horoscope signs on their palms. Would this be tackled further in the possible sequel that was hinted at by a mid-credits sequence? Juskong mahabagin!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: THE DEBUTANTES (Prime Cruz, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Debutantes:

1. I still haven’t forgotten about the clunky twist of last week’s Last Night and now we get another movie that hinged on the big reveal of an ‘imaginary’ being. Are our writers running out of original ideas to surprise the audience?

It probably would have been more acceptable if the said twist wasn’t so obvious the moment you see young Jona Soquite (or at least who I thought was her). Seriously, why would ‘siblings’ with a huge age gap have that twinning kind of severe BANGS (yes, nagsusumigaw) anyway? The only mystery left was whether she was the evil side of Carrie, er, Kate (a competent Sue Ramirez), or a completely different entity altogether (answer: sadly, the latter).

2. I had this discussion recently with a filmmaker friend on the lack of creative main titles in recent films (especially Star Cinema ones). We would usually see the same old cast names in red (or white) Times New Roman or Comic Sans fonts that clearly revealed the lack of originality or how much the final product was rushed.

One good thing about this movie was that it had a good opening credit sequence with blood flowing/dripping endlessly on various objects like a flower (cattleya?) or on the lips that would figure prominently later on. Reminded me so much of the Emmy-winning design for Six Feet Under.

3. Although the bullying and the public humiliation reminded me of Carrie, the similarity ended there because it was hard not to sympathize with the Mean Girls when this was obviously not an outright revenge flick. How could I cheer for the eventual deaths of young, irritating girls when Kate wasn’t the one doing the killings?

I never really rooted for a maligno, except for this one time when the Undin hid in the toilet bowl and preyed on the loudmouth landlady played by Vangie Labalan.

4. Speaking of Mean Girls, I couldn’t get why Ivy Aguas wannabe Jenny (Jane de Leon) was considered the Queen Bee. She didn’t look or speak the part and Michelle Vito as Candice had more of the Regina George vibe (although the latter was also a terrible actress so maybe that was the reason?).

To be fair, the Jenny character was a hoot. I laughed out loud when she said, “Hey guys, as you all know it’s my birthday. Yeeeees! Happy birthday to meeeee!!”.

5. I also couldn’t understand how Miles Ocampo ended up with this group of bitches considering that her Lara character seemed like the typical goody two-shoes. Sure, she lived alone in a humongous house and had an annoying fringed bag that screamed social climber, but her personality just didn’t seem to fit with the group. Was it because she was too dumb to know the difference between Geometry and Calculus and the group needed a budget Karen Smith?

6. Why would Kate agree to wear a revealing halter top when she had visible scratch marks on her back? Also, why didn’t she even bother to check how loose those strings were prior to attending a party full of privileged brats?

In this day and age of social media prominence, who would still post a public status of them embarrassing other people? Have these kids already forgotten about Ate Amalayer, or the Kuya that threw a hissy fit in Alfamart and got knocked down by a loaf of Gardenia, or the Sisteret that wanted to hog all the chairs in Starbucks? A documented case of bullying sounded like an instant lawsuit to me.

7. This was a Prime Cruz movie so of course it looked good. I really loved the use of saturated colors and I hope that it wasn’t just a product of SM Cinemas’ poor projection. I kinda missed his cool soundtrack though and the songs were mostly utilized during the end credits.

8. I really don’t get how these onscreen characters would cut their own hair and they’d always end up with salon gorgeous looks after. If I were to handle my own haircut, my mother would most probably ask if I recently had ‘tipus’ (uhm, thyphoid fever).

9. Why would a traumatized Kate immediately attend the wake of one of her bullies? Was it because we needed a scare scene involving a coffin? And why was Candice wearing a stylish cover-up and pekpek shorts there? Jenny should really have risen from the dead and slapped her silly for stealing the limelight (and for lack of respect, naturally).

10. Most of the horror elements were familiar tropes (they basically replaced the hair braid coming out of Naomi Watts’ throat in The Ring with a necklace; the jump scene when somebody would open a fridge and a person would be standing behind it was used twice, the other with a locker; the setup where the ghost would pull on the blanket of a sleeping person looked straight out of The Conjuring) and even impressive scenes like when the engkanto came out of Kate’s mouth looked similar to the one in The Possession (or one of the Ouija movies). I spent most of the time chuckling at how bad the death scenes were staged.

11. That was one dirty toilet bowl. Candice, please ask your maid to check the Coke hack on Facebook pronto.

12. This was the type of horror movie where a person in a pool would see the moo moo and decide to swim to the other side instead of getting her ass out of the water and fleeing for dear life. Congratulations Shayne (Chanel Morales) for winning this month’s Darwin Award!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆