MOVIE REVIEW: MADRASTA (Olivia Lamasan, 1996)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Madrasta:

1. Bakit obsessed ang Hollywood sa pag-plagiarize ng films ni Claudine Barretto? Masyadong glaring ang similarities ng Got 2 Believe at 27 Dresses. Lalong hindi ako maniniwala na coincidence lang ang mga eksena na parehong-pareho sa Stepmom at Madrasta (kasama na yung confrontation scene ng dalawang nanay sa restaurant at yung ending na pagsali ng madrasta sa family picture). Akala n’yo tayo lang ang walang originality lagi ha. O ayan may masusumbat na din tayo sa Hollywood. Sana ang susunod na gayahin nila ay Kailangan Kita, where we’ll see a braless country girl played by Jennifer Lawrence fall in love with New York celebrity chef Chris Evans.

2. Isa siguro ito sa mga pelikula na kaya kong sumulat ng 1,000-word essay of random thoughts na walang kahirap-hirap. Memorable pa siya kasi bahay ng friend ko nung high school ang ginamit na location dito. Muntik na nga ako magka-film debut nung sinabihan niya kami na naghahanap ng extras for a party scene ni Ate Clau. Ang tagal ko pa namili ng best Giordano outfit ko tapos biglang na-pack up. Ayun siya na lang ang nakasama nung sumunod na shooting day (wearing her best Giordano outfit). Pero feel na feel ko pa rin na kasama ako sa pelikula by association.

3. If you’ll watch this through woke lenses in 2020, lalabas talaga na sobrang problematic niya. Marami kasing aspects ang film dealing with the class divide (“Pinakikisamahan ko na ang mga anak mo. Pati ba naman mga katulong kelangan ko pa pakibagayan?”) to the patriarchal system na hindi na acceptable ngayon. Although it did speak to an audience that lived through that period. Yung mga nakaporma ng Umbro jerseys or yung mga 90’s titos and titas na nagulantang ang pagkatao nang makita si Mariel (Megastar Sharon Cuneta) na nakaupo sa kubeta.

4. Peak Tita Shawie talaga ito. Deserved ang Grand Slam kasi ibang-iba ang atake kumpara sa mga blockbuster 80’s melodramas niya. Yung tahimik lang umiyak pero ramdam na ramdam yung sakit na kahit anong gawin niya, hindi siya talaga magiging parte ng pamilya ng asawa niya. Na kahit nagreklamo siya na lagi siyang nag-take ng backseat para sa mga bata, ang sinagot lang sa kanya ay, “I cannot give importance to my happiness at the expense of my children”. Saklap! Nasabihan pa na hindi masarap ang gawa niyang baked mac huhu.

Best scene niya dito yung almost wordless na pag-iyak niya sa deathbed ng kanyang favorite lolo set to the haunting Moonlight Sonata. Parang binuksang gripo ang mga mata niya pero very restrained ang acting. Halos hindi na rin ako makahinga kakaiyak nung umabot na sa sweet and touching na pa-ilong nila.

5. Nagustuhan ko yung twist na hindi madrasta ang maldita for a change. Effective talaga si Ate Clau basta pasaway ang roles niya (see also: Anak, Dahil Mahal na Mahal Kita). Kahit yung jumper outfits niya parang nagsusumigaw na super bitch. Tawang-tawa ako nung ibinibida siya ni Mariel sa kapatid nito by saying, “Mukhang suplada lang si Rachel pero kapag nakilala mo… ano… (two second pause)… ok naman.” Hahahaha!

Si Ms. Vangieeeee Labalan naman sobrang atribida as the household mayordoma. Walang bukambibig kundi ang kanyang idol na si Ma’m Sandra (Zsa Zsa Padilla). Feeling ko kung ganun din ang ugali niya sa akin, di rin siya magtatagal ng isang linggo. Either that or lagi ko papatunugin yung bell na pantawag sa kanya (very 90’s burgis film nga diba).

6. Speaking of social classes, ang galing nung juxtaposition ng lunch scenes ng dalawang pamilya. Yung kina Mariel talagang magkakatabi sila in a compact dining area tapos ang ingay mag-kwentuhan. Tapos nung kina Edward (Christopher de Leon) na, nasa may garden at naka-long table tapos very refined at tahimik lang. Yung mom lang niya (Madam Tita Muñoz) ang nag-lead ng entire conversation (at mukhang siya rin ang totoong may-ari ng bell).

Naalala ko nung pinanood ko ito sa sinehan sobrang lakas ng tawanan na more lamon ang brother ni Mariel (Cris Villanueva). Tapos biglang sigaw naman nung nahulog ang crab ng isang sister niya (Eula Valdez) na pinulot bigla at inilagay niya sa kandungan. Very relatable talaga sila.

Although ang funniest scene ni Eula for me still was yung pinabili siya ng McCormick Black Pepper tapos ang binili niya cornick kasi akala niya kelangan ng chichirya sa fancy birthday party ni Ate Clau. Bwahahaha!!

7. One of the few local films that first used live sound kaya minsan di mo marinig ang sinasabi ng characters kasi mas malakas pa ang mga palaka sa background.

8. Points to ponder:

“Meron ba namang nagmahal na hindi nasaktan? Kaya ka nasasaktan kasi nagmamahal ka. Pero mas masakit kung naghihintay ka ng kapalit. Yun bang iniisip mo kung ano ang dapat mong matanggap sa halip na isipin mo kung hanggang saan ang kaya mong ibigay. Kasi tayo eh mahilig tayong tumingin sa katabi kapag tayo ay nasasaktan na. Yun bang iniisip nating sila ang may kasalanan. Bakit? Wala din ba tayong mga pagkakamali?”

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.)