SAAN DARATING ANG UMAGA? (Maryo J. Delos Reyes, 1983)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Saan Darating ang Umaga?:

1. Meron talagang mga pelikula na marinig mo pa lang ang theme song maiiyak ka na. Nung pinanood ko ulit ito recently, hindi pa kumakanta si Raymond Lauchengco (as in instrumental part pa lang sa initial scenes) pero parang sasabog na ang puso ko. Na-picture ko agad si Joel (‘80s child star Jaypee de Guzman) na ngumangawa habang humahabol sa kanyang Ate Shayne (FAMAS Best Supporting Actress winner Maricel Soriano) pagkasoli sa kanya sa ampunan (more on that later).

“Bakit pa pinagtagpo? Pala’y maglalayo tayo sa ating buhay…” Hala, naluluha na ako ulit!!

2. Melodramatic siya to a fault pero sobrang earned yung tears. Ang daling mahalin ng Pamilya Rodrigo kasi they functioned like any normal middle class family during that time. I’m sure maraming oldies like me na makaka-relate sa everyday situations nila. Yung panahon na considered breadwinner pa ang mga tatay habang butihing housewives naman ang mga nanay. Tapos yung tuwing maririnig ng mga bata ang kotse ni tatay eh sasalubungin nila sa gate ng bahay at maghahanap ng dalang pasalubong.

Ang conservative pa ng values noon kaya nakakaaliw ang pag-ku-kuwento ng nanay na si Lorrie (the magnificent Nida Blanca) kay Shayne ng trade secrets to maintain a healthy partnership. Natawa ako nung sinabi niya na kahit ang tagal na nila mag-asawa, hindi pa siya nakikita ni Ruben (Nestor de Villa) na nakahubad para hindi ito maghanap ng iba. Very 80’s maybahay talaga.

Also, nakakatawa ang kulitan scenes nilang mag-nanay. Nung lumabas si Shayne na todo make-up before going to school (kasi in love ang ate mo), ang unang hirit ni mudang eh “Do you have a party today?”. Ayun napikon, sabay walkout at galit na galit ginaya ang nanay niya sa harapan ng salamin. Ganyan na ganyan ako kapag asar-talo.

3. Malungkot ang major themes on adoption, loss, and grief. Ang sakit sa puso nung sinabi ni Lorrie na “Bakit naman kasi kung sino pa yung gustong-gusto magkaanak, siya pa ang laging nakukunan?”. Makikita rin dito na for the privileged ang legal adoption. Magastos ang overall process at kelangan talaga na malinaw ang financial support. Obvious naman na can afford sila kasi ang lawak ng garden in their gated subdivision home (big enough para mag-sunbathing si Shayne dahil feel lang niya haha!).

Ang medyo naguluhan lang ako ay yung pagbabalik kay Joel nung dulo. Allowed ba talaga yun dahil nabaliw si Lorrie at in danger na ang bata kapag kasama siya? Nakaka-sad kasi parang hiniram lang siya na laruan tapos nung hindi na nila kaya alagaan eh isosoli na lang ulit.

I really liked the strong connection nito dun sa isa pang pelikula ni Maricel na Ama, Ina, Anak. Daming similarities including yung sibling rivalry, although that one wasn’t as tragic.

4. Speaking of sibling rivalry, believable talaga yung pagmamaldita ni Shayne out of jealousy lalo na at na-divert sa new bunso lahat ng attention. Na kahit ang laki ng age gap nila, ultimo pasalubong na chocolates eh nakikipag-agawan pa siya sa bata (di naman ako nagulat kasi even nung pabitin scene eh parang gusto niya sumali).

Sobrang paawa din kasi yung mukha ni Joel kaya natawa ako sa pasimpleng sipa sa kanya ni Shayne nung aerobics scene. At kahit ako uminit ang ulo nung puro drawings na ang favorite niya na plastic-covered copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude (first, kasi I really love that book, and second, kasi nangyari rin ito sa akin at nung nasira ang magazine ko na collector’s item, ako pa ang napagalitan ng parentals at sinabihan na babayaran nila, as if meron pang copy nun at may katumbas na price ang sentimental value haha bitter pa rin).

(Side note: Huy Shayne, binigyan ka lang ng book ng stalker mo tapos date na agad? Anyare sa conservative values na sinasabi ko kanina?)

Pero syempre naawa pa rin ako kay Joel nung binalibag at pinagsasampal siya habang tinatawag na ampon kasi alam naman natin paano si Marya sa iconic sampalan scenes niya.

5. Maganda talaga yung increased awareness regarding depression. Dati hindi ko maintindihan masyado yung immediate change of emotions ni Lorrie kay Joel after mamatay ni Ruben. Iniisip ko kasi na nanay pa rin siya at sobrang minahal niya yung bata so bakit ang bilis niya magpa-Sophie’s Choice kay Shayne na mamili sa kanilang dalawa.

Pero ngayon alam ko na kung ano ang severe adverse effects ng grief sa mental state ng tao. Posible siyang mangyari kapag nakaka-experience ng ganung trauma from a tragedy. Yung umaabot talaga sa point na kukuha ng scissors at pagsasasaksakin ang portrait ng isang bata.

(Side note ulit: After repeat viewings, napansin ko na ang ganda ng foreshadowing nung beach race scene lalo na kung intentional siya. Eto yung hinablot ni Lorrie yung “flag” kay Joel tapos tuloy-tuloy siyang tumakbo na walang pakialam kahit nahulog na yung bunso niya sa kinatatayuang bato. At very apt na si Shayne talaga ang tumigil para saluhin ang bata.)

6. “Minsan isang umaga babalikan kita.” One of the saddest final lines ever written.

Kung marami kang pent-up emotions today, panoorin mo na siya. Wag kalimutan ang box ng tissue.

Rating: ★★★★☆

THE HOWS OF US (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Hows of Us:

1. If you’re an old soul (read: an oldie afraid to admit that he’s beyond his prime) like me, you probably have downloaded and played Homescapes (currently ranked #73 in the Apple App Store) where your goal was to build this dream house and decorate it with all types of furniture. The first five minutes of this movie reminded me so much of that game, with George (Kathryn Bernardo) and Primo (Daniel Padilla) providing the voiceover while they selected the perfect couch for their living room. That scene culminated in a huge shouting match that signalled the end of their relationship before transitioning to a split screen sequence that was completely lifted from Kalyeserye (I swear I could hear an instrumental version of Rey Valera’s Kahit Maputi na ang Buhok Ko in the background, a song I have associated with AlDub ever since I died of kilig from their McDonald’s commercial heydays). And then it turned into a Mannequin Challenge with the camera moving around while the pair pretended to be serious contenders in a game of stop dance. Wait, were they aiming to do a recap of pop culture references for this decade?

2. I honestly expected this to be KathNiel’s response to the critical success of JaDine’s Never Not Love You, but it simply lacked the depth and maturity (in terms of characters and story) needed to display their growth as artists (insert that meme of Tyra Banks screaming “I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!!”).

Hearing Kathryn utter the word “Putangina!” repeatedly just wasn’t enough, especially if you would consider a Miss Granny like Sarah Geronimo saying vulgar words like “puke” and “hindot” in her most recent film. While their screen rivals tackled weighty themes like long distance relationships and adult responsibilities, the biggest conflict in this movie was whether George should continue with her jeepney ride to take her med school exam or scream “para!” to get down and help a drunk Primo who was slumped on the road. These were supposed to be real people problems? Seryoso?

Side note: I guess it spoke a lot about the maturity of these characters that the fans still shrieked their lungs out every time the lovebirds kissed.

3. Dear Star Cinema, wasn’t it too early to start recycling elements from your recent hits? There were so many things here that reminded me so much of Starting Over Again from George’s line of “In him, I saw a good man…” to that supposedly sensual flirtation reminiscent of Toni Gonzaga’s stepladder scene down to that drunk rant of George with her gay BFF (Juan Miguel Severo) that never reached the comedic heights of Beauty Gonzalez’s “Yang hope na yan, lason yan” moment. I’m sure you have a strong pool of writers. Wala na bang bago? (As in Susan Africa played a Tita Lola role and ended up dead after a few scenes.)

4. If anything, Kathryn looked so gorgeous here (with or without her EO Optical contacts) and I’d have to commend her for making the most out of her thinly-written character. She only had one off moment when she was required to overact like crazy in that “Pagod na pagod na pagod na ako!” scene. Otherwise, she was actually good in her dramatic scenes (even if she played a selfish girlfriend required to say lines like “Wala kang pambili kahit cupcake man lang para sa akin?”) and was even better during the (abruptly) comedic second half. She seemed headed back to her glorious Magkaribal/Mara Clara days. Really happy for her!!

And no amount of Daniel sporting a horrible mullet and looking like a deranged version of Lady Diane (“Sa-sa-Saddami ng problema natin!”) minimized the fact that this tandem could still deliver the requisite kiligs. My favorite moment had to be that cringey-sweet hugot of Primo: “Matagal na naman akong talo eh simula nung hinayaan kong mawala ka”. Awww!

(P.S. Ang galing na nila umarte pareho. Please give them the movie that they deserve!!)

5. I had seen the entire filmography of Maricel Soriano so I know that that entire splitting of the house with masking tape gag was already done with much better results in Kung Kaya Mo, Kaya Ko Rin! (and yes, it was also just copied from a much earlier film with Dolphy and Nida Blanca or some other Philippine Cinema legends that I was too lazy to Google). If I remembered it correctly, there was also a scene where Cesar Montano played his guitar and tried to win back Maricel through a harana. And when Maricel’s BFF Ruby Rodriguez decided to visit the house, she had to drag her over to her side because the rest of the space was off-limits. All of those exact same scenes were in this movie. Again, wala na bang bago?

6. In one clunky scene, George and Primo were selling their “conjugal” ancestral home to a potential buyer (Odette Khan) and after stating that it really didn’t have much value, Primo countered that it did have a lot of history and special memories, thus making it priceless. And I kept thinking, “Totoo ba? Ano naman paki ng buyer sa memories na yan?” so I was really surprised when she instead replied with “I like it! Eto na ang pera!” Huwaaaat?

7. Real jokes delivered while the lovebirds biked around Amsterdam:

• “Bakit ang daming nag-ba-bike dito?” “Eh bike-it naman hindi?”

• “Anong instrumento ang favorite sa Amsterdam?” “Eh di Amsterdrums!”

• “Ano ang favorite pet sa Amsterdam?” “Eh di Hamsterdam!”

• “Ano ang paboritong kainin sa Amsterdam?” “Eh di Hamsterdam and Cheese!”

Should I continue? AMSTERDAMMIT!!

8. “Sana samahan mo pa rin ako in finding out the answers to all the hows.” Hahahaha! Naipilit pa rin ang title.

But seriously, after My Ex and Whys and The Hows of Us, I wonder if Star Cinema still has plans of using the remaining 4W’s. Who Who Belles? What’s Upon a Time? Ready to Where? When Dramas? Oh, too punny!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

ANG GURO KONG ‘DI MARUNONG MAGBASA (Perry Escaño, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ang Guro Kong ‘Di Marunong Magbasa:

1. In the film Abakada…Ina, Lorna Tolentino played an illiterate mother who had the unfortunate luck of having a nasty schoolteacher for a biyenan (played by the late great Nida Blanca). One of the movie’s highlights was their verbal showdown where Nida bluntly called her tanga, ignorante, and iliterada. The apparent shame that she felt upon hearing those words was enough to make me bawl my eyes out.

Although the issue of illiteracy would always be an important topic, some Pinoy films only used this as a default plot device to tug at heartstrings. I think the last film I watched that dealt with this as well was that MMFF New Wave film Turo Turo, where AJ Dee played a fishball vendor who went bankrupt because he didn’t know how to properly count the exact change.

2. Similar to these movies, Guro also had good intentions, but its execution was completely disastrous. It wasn’t even about the illiterate teacher played by Alfred Vargas, or a scathing look at child warriors trained for political propaganda. It was just a poor excuse to shoot an action film where the main villain was tied to a tree and shot with a grenade launcher (after a controversial spit bukkake scene as a form of torture), or for Kiko Matos playing a soldier to keep tumbling around for no apparent reason.

3. It was hard to take the movie seriously when everything about it was just awful, in particular:

• Gunshots sounded like they came from plastic toy guns.

• Characters having dinner were squeezed on one side of the table for framing reasons (kahit mag-isa lang si Alfred sa kabilang side).

• The camera moved from side-to-side behind the students and half of the screen would just be a shot of their backs (was this supposed to be a nod to early Shyamalan?).

• The sound of goats bleating was louder than the actual dialogue.

• Terrible editing that never really cared about transitions or continuity.

4. One of the scenes that garnered the biggest laughs from the audience included a cassette tape used to teach the alphabet to kids.

Sample phonics:

• A is for Animal
• B is for Beast
• C is for Ceasefire (huh?)
• D is for Dark Side (huwat?!)
• E is for Education
• F is for Freedom (nux!)

I suggest that the updated 2017 version include the following: O is for Ohmygulay, P is for Pisting yawa…

Also, this magical cassette knew exactly when to proceed to the next letter. It didn’t speak until after Alfred mimicked what it just said. Wow lang.

5. My favorite scene though included foreign delegates that volunteered to teach the young students in that far-flung barrio (they probably never heard that the place was as safe as Marawi so they travelled without any security). They were supposedly from different countries like Singapore or the US, but most of them looked like they came from Las Piñas.

I had to control a fart when one of them was asked why she decided to help and she replied with, “I would like to smell the fresh air of the forest.” Q is for Qiqil si acoe.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆