MOVIE REVIEW: SUNOD (Carlo Ledesma, 2019)

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To be fair, ang daming visually-arresting images dito lalo na yung mukhang natatabunan ng lupa at yung use ng red string. May feel siya ng current Hollywood horror movie. Yung di puro cheap jump scares na lang. Kaso problema rin na hindi siya nakakatakot at all.

Aliw na aliw ako sa call center setting na nasa isang abandoned hospital tapos literal na production floor na agad paglabas ng elevator. Ano kayang mga grievance and appeals ng mga agents dito maliban sa amoy chloroform tapos parang nagtitipid sila ng kuryente?

Lakas ng tawa ko nung yung COO ng company na si Mylene Dizon ay nagmamasid sa mga agents mula sa second floor at nakikinig sa call-handling skills nila. Kabog niya lahat ng kilala kong terror QAs. Tenga lang pala niya ang katapat ng call monitoring systems. Feedback agad for immediate coaching.

Hindi ako masyadong impressed noon kay Krystal Brimner sa Honor Thy Father. Pero iba ang galing niya dito as a possessed girl. Ang ganda ng transitions niya from being helpless and innocent to sinister and creepy.

The best for me na hindi si Susan Africa ang may TB dito for a change. Kaso kelangan ba talaga na gawin siya kamukha nung internet viral sensation na si Momo?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: JUST A STRANGER (Jason Paul Laxamana, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Just a Stranger:

1. Sobrang tagal na pala since my last confession. (Mababasa ito ng nanay ko kaya, Sorry ma, I’m not proud of it.) Feeling ko sa haba ng listahan ng kasalanan na ikukumpisal ko, baka mauna pa matapos ang Probinsyano bago ang pag-uusap namin ni Father.

Eh paano pa kung kasing-chismoso siya ng pari dun sa simbahan ni Mae (Anne Curtis) na nagpa-kuwento ng bawat detalye ng adulterous affair niya with Jekjek (Marco Gumabao)? Yung inabot sila ng halos dalawang oras kasi kelangan niya talaga malaman kung ilang beses nag-sex yung mga cheater bago maka-prescribe ng penance (one Hail Mary ba ang norm for every instance?).

Tapos kelangan may comic relief na sisilipin niya kung gaano talaga kaganda si cougar Mae na nahumaling sa kanya ang isang teenager. At para mas nakakatawa, may reaction siya na “My God! Oh shit, sorry!” na feeling ko katumbas ng isang Sorrowful Mystery. Okay ka lang ba, Father?

(Pero salamat sa refresher on the difference between mortal and venial sins, I guess.)

2. Bilang dating president ng Reyster-Ems Fans Club – Las Piñas Chapter, alam ko na ka-love team ni Anne sa T.G.I.S. si Chubi del Rosario (who was several batches lower sa akin sa Zobel) so parang ang hirap maniwala na she was playing somebody around my age. Common naman for actors to play roles na way older or younger than their actual (or screen) age pero may binabagayan din siguro.

Hindi ko talaga matanggap na 40ish na si Anne dito at doble ng edad ni Marco (na mukha namang mid-20s). Malayong-malayo sa casting ng recent May-December love affairs na kakapanood ko lang from Glorious (Angel Aquino-Tony Labrusca) to Belle Douleur (Mylene Dizon-Kit Thompson) to Malamaya (Sunshine Cruz-Enzo Pineda).

Ang off lang nung tinawag si Mae na “tita” at tinawag niya namang “totoy” si Jekjek kasi papasa pa silang halos magkaedad (does that make me “lolo” levels ganern?). Hindi ba available si Alice Dixson?

3. Maliban sa kabit factor, selling point ng pelikula ang promised steamy love scenes na hindi ko naman masyadong naramdaman. Sobrang hot nina Anne and Marco (as in yung sexual attraction sa kanila transcends any gender; their characters even shamelessly described themselves as “attractive, winnable, charismatic”) pero parang walang heat or passion kapag magkasama na sila sa kama (or their chosen place of torjakan).

Konting halik, konting himas, tapos na agad ang eksena at pawisan na sila parehong nakahiga. I didn’t expect naman na dapat super graphic, extended, or gratuitous ang sex scenes pero at the very least ramdam yung electricity between them as soon as their bodies touched, diba? Yung parang kelangan mo ng cold shower para mahimasmasan katulad nung pagkatapos ko mapanood ang Unfaithful.

Pero wala talaga eh. Baka dun pumapasok na para nga silang mag-tita. (Btw, ang weird nung “Mobile Legends” reference.)

4. Given naman na magaling umarte si Anne. Kita mo yung loneliness sa mata niya bilang trophy wife kaya nagawa niyang lokohin ang kanyang asawa (Edu Manzano). (Side note: Bakit nga ba hindi issue ang age gap sa atin kapag lalaki ang mas matanda?)

May hint of repressed naughtiness din siya kaya madalas mag-give in sa temptations. Yung restrained niya na pag-iyak sa balcony scenes were impressive. Also, parang siya lang ang kayang magdala nung glamorous alta look pa rin habang nakasakay sa sidecar with her oversized abaniko.

Alam ko they were going for realism in terms of ugly crying (as in uhog levels ni Tita Viola Davis) pero nagtawanan (at nandiri?) ang mga tao nung nag-stretch na parang cheese sa pizza ang laway niya habang umiiyak sa kitchen. Not a fan of her acting din sa eulogy dream sequence.

5. On the other hand, okay lang ang performance ni Marco. Hindi naman siya nilamon (even literally) ni Anne. Medyo malamya lang talaga ang acting niya when the role required an immature, feeling alpha-male boy. Yung kelangan ng conviction ang pag-overcompensate niya sa sarili with lines like “You guys can take turns on me, I can go all night” kahit alam mo lalabasan talaga siya after 30 seconds. At least believable siya magsuot ng brief.

(Also, I’m officially declaring 2019 as the Year of the Cinematic Pwet.)

6. Tbh medyo nagulat ako sa output ni Jason Paul Laxamana this time kasi maayos siya na writer at storyteller. Yung tipong aawayin ka niya on social media pero wala kang malait masyado sa body of work niya kasi usually nga malinis talaga ang mga gawa niya (my favorites are still Mercury is Mine and Bakwit Boys).

Dito parang ang sloppy ng screenplay pati technical aspects. May sub-plot about Mae’s fibromyalgia na walang pinatunguhan. May eksena na nagtanggal siya ng heels in full view of other guests kahit sobrang sophisticated ng character niya. Minsan hindi ko alam kung gusto nilang maging discreet or mahuli ng ibang tao (part ba ng thrill yung naglaplapan sila sa kotseng wala namang tint?). Bigla na lang hindi na issue ang age gap nung dulo.

Pero ang worst for me was the ending. Grabe lang yung cringe factor dun na may linyahang “Who are you?” tapos sumagot si Mae ng “No one…” at nakisabay ang buong sinehan sa pagsabi ng “I’m just a stranger”. Juskopong mahabagin.

7. Cherie Gil was onscreen for a good five minutes and ended up as the most memorable character. Eksenadora ang tita mo talaga. Oh wait, don’t call her tita pala!

(At teka, naguluhan ako nung nilandi ni Edu si Cherie kasi apparently he was “into women (his) own age” pero si Mae ang asawa niya. Ano ba talaga ang type niya?)

8. Irita ako dun sa girlfriend na Febbie simula nung fake surprise scene niya (na ewan ko paano siya nagtago sa likod ng parents ni Jekjek) hanggang dun sa chaka niya na pag-iyak sa church. Mas bagay siguro yung girl sa role ni Diablita (the doll).

9. Ang pinaka-suspension of disbelief talaga para sa akin dito (maliban sa supposed age gap) ay yung super rich kid ni Jekjek kasi sinustentuhan siya ng tatay niya para tumira sa Tokyo, Washington, at Lisbon tapos ang suot niya lagi na undies eh Bench Body.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: BELLE DOULEUR (Joji Villanueva Alonso, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Umay levels ang iba’t-ibang anggulo ng pwet ni Kit Thompson na medyo tuod pa rin umarte. Sa sobrang dami ng sex scenes nila ni Mylene Dizon, naubusan ng “nadiligang flower” metaphors ang director. (Also, ang saya talaga kapag privileged kasi pwedeng mag-sex na lang kayo all day, every day na walang iniisip na trabaho.)

Sobrang hot ni Mylene na parang hindi masyadong tumanda si Melanie Suntay niya sa Gimik. Kaya di rin masyadong ramdam for me ang sinasabing age gap. Yung parang Maricel Soriano-Diether Ocampo sa Soltera na mapapaisip ka kung true love ba or pineperahan lang siya.

Technically, malinis ang pelikula. Napaka-glossy na parang Star Cinema movie. Nung naglakad nga si Mylene sa UP grounds, akala ko biglang magiging Alone/Together. Tapos self-love ulit ang theme. Kakapanood ko lang nito sa Hello, Love, Goodbye ah.

MOVIE REVIEW: 100 (Chris Martinez, 2008)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on 100:

1. If you only had a hundred days left to live, what one hundred things would you do with your limited time? Scary thought for sure, but something that most of us had probably imagined.

2. Upon diagnosis of a terminal case of lymphoma, Joyce de Leon (played by the excellent Mylene Dizon) used Post-its on her wall to remind herself of her bucket list. The tasks ranged from serious responsibilities (resign, pay loans and mortgage), normal chores (clean closet, pack books), sentimental tasks (arrange photo album, visit high school), mundane stuff (food trips that included ice cream, Lapid’s chicharon, and crispy pata; kiss a stranger) and even chilling realities (pick a casket, select funeral clothes).

3. The list grew longer as she revealed her illness to family and friends. Her best friend Ruby (the delightful Eugene Domingo) added the typical BFF fun stuff (trip to HK) while her mother (the superb Tessie Tomas) wrote down normal motherly tasks (stop smoking, visit Manaoag). None of the items would be out of place in a usual bucket list. Even her fantasies (visit Europe, see the Eiffel Tower and Mona Lisa) were fulfilled via YouTube. Everything was so grounded in reality that it would be hard not to feel her pain and her fears.

4. I definitely loved the writing in this film. People talked like real human beings and even if it dealt with life and death, there were still a lot of moments that made me laugh (sometimes through the tears). One said scene involved an Ate Vi marathon. After viewing Tagos ng Dugo (where could I get a copy of this?) and Relasyon, the two friends decided to watch Pahiram ng Isang Umaga. Bad choice, obviously. They were bawling by the end that Ruby quipped “Sabi ko sa’yo dapat Darna na lang sinunod natin eh.”

Another included a skinny dipping scene that you would have to see to believe (such fearless actresses! Bravo!!).

5. I probably had a lump in my throat for the entire two hours. There was just an overall feeling of uneasiness and anxiety even if the scenes were nowhere close to being mawkish. I started choosing my own funeral songs as well when I saw her selection (Seasons of Love, really?! Mine would include The Scientist, for sure.)

6. I also understood why Tell Mommy was the hardest thing for her to do. In one scene, her mom served her veggie kare-kare without the tuwalya and any bagoong since it was bad for her health. It ended with a brutal shouting match (“Pati mga libro ko pinalitan mo. The Purpose Driven Life? Aanhin ko yun?”) followed by one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the film where Joyce apologized and said “Lahat tayo mamamatay, Ma. Mauuna lang po ako. Ng konti.” (Full disclosure: I was crying while typing this.)

7. Here’s a line that struck me a lot (delivered by Joyce’s boss upon her resignation): “Kayo talagang mga single, masyado kayong restless. You don’t know what to do with your money. You don’t know what to do with your lives.” Hurtful and yet so true.

8. The last few minutes were definitely up for interpretation. Others would argue that she didn’t die in the end and she was just at peace with herself. The rest would say that she died and ended up in paradise (given her fear that there was no life after death). Regardless of the actual meaning, the silence of the wonderfully-executed scene provided the catharsis that the audience (still with lumps in our throats) needed as well.

Rating: ★★★★★