PANDANGGO SA HUKAY (Sheryl Rose Andes, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Naawa lang ako kay Iza Calzado dito. Sobrang committed niya sa role kahit biglang pinag-shinger siya habang pinapanood si Bembol Roco (may fetish si Elena sa kalbo?) pagkatapos ginawang joke time ang rape niya.

Ganda na nung simula na parang a day in the life of a midwife tapos biglang nagkalat sa second half na may kidnapping arc ng Etibak Gang. As in super kalat. Yung mapapaisip ka paano nanalo ng Palanca award ang screenplay eh nothing really made sense sa pinaggagawa ng mga characters.

Gusto pa ata ng pelikula na maging dark comedy sa dulo kasi may eksena na naka-handcuff si Elena sa pintuan ng ref tapos binabaril siya ng mga kidnappers habang umiiwas sa mga bala na parang nagsasayaw. Akala ko nga papasok ang music, ipapatong niya sa ulo ang natanggal na pinto, tapos magsasayaw siya ng pandanggo.

You really can’t spell Etibak Gang without ebak. (Kung di ko lang talaga mahal ‘tong si Iza…)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES (Raya Martin, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

One character probably summed it up best when he mentioned that the others may have seen one too many Hollywood crime films since there were no serial killers in the Philippines (hail Queen Jessica Zafra!). Although this adaptation of the Palanca-winning novel by F.H. Batacan had a distinctly Pinoy setting (what screamed poverty more than the Payatas dumpsite?), nothing else felt authentic in this slow-paced procedural slash disappointing non-thriller.

I couldn’t get past the unnatural dialogue between the two conyo Jesuit priests (Nonie Buencamino and Sid Lucero). When the latter said something like “Nobody raised a stink?”, I just wanted to make tungga a bottle of holy water. Although these served well during one Atenista joke, the English conversations just felt (what did you call it again, Holden Caulfield?), ah yes, phony. Don’t get me started on the unnecessary (oh look we’re multilingual!) French talk.

Even the themes didn’t exactly break new ground. Inefficiency of our local crime units? Politicians taking advantage of the poor? Abusive power of the Church? Pedophile priests? Where was Joel Lamangan when you needed him? Worse, the big reveal of the killer felt very anticlimactic with the introduction of a last minute character (and not in a menacing Kevin Spacey in Se7en way) whose motives and modus weren’t fully explained.

At least it had the budget for a competent all-star cast, lovely cinematography and terrific production design (that fully captured the grimy late 90s aesthetics). It also obviously wasn’t a rushed production with a pre-keto diet Mae Paner (and was that the late Joy Viado in one scene?).

I got bored during the sluggish killer confession scene so I just imagined a more interesting version of the movie in my head. I renamed Buencamino’s Father Saenz as Father Science since he was a forensics expert anyway and with all the victims’ missing hearts and genitals, he sought the help of Kim Chiu’s Mayen who already had an experience with monsters that shove organs down people’s throats. Chito Roño’s Smaller and Smaller Bagwas, anyone?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆