THROUGH NIGHT & DAY (Veronica Velasco, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Through Night and Day:

1. I used to have an Entertainment Weekly subscription when the magazine only cost around Php100 (it’s now priced at Php400!!). One of my favorite film critics there was Lisa Schwarzbaum and although we would usually have opposing views (she had the audacity to call Fight Club “dumb” and even gave it a D grade), I enjoyed her brutal (read: honest) opinions.

I was reminded so much of her Pay It Forward review which she described as a “shameless cliché of emotional and physical damage”. I couldn’t understand her hate back then because I was a sobbing mess by the end of that film. After watching this JaMill in Iceland travelogue turned manipulative tearjerker, I finally got it. Some movies would simply throw in a last minute trope (an accident, death, cancer) that appealed to the most basic sentiments and hope that the audience would equate their reaction of crying to quality. As a sucker for three hankie weepies who would bawl my eyes out while watching a Jollibee Christmas ad, I have had enough of this type of emotional manipulation.

2. The movie started off okay as it followed this annoying couple (Alessandra de Rossi as Jen and Paolo Contis as Ben) who had been together for thirteen years deciding to finally have an out of the country trip. It was supposedly the real test of their relationship (oh just wait until you guys actually lived together) because travelling would bring out the worst in people (as seen in every season with couples in The Amazing Race). Their country of choice was Iceland probably because it was a new destination for a Pinoy romcom and not a lot of people saw the fake-looking Aurora Borealis in the Piolo Pascual-Yen Santos snoozefest Northern Lights: A Journey To Love.

They rented a van without any insurance (a sign of an impending accident), complained about the exorbitant food prices (a trip to a local 7-11 cost them almost Php4k), provided Kuya Kim trivia about the place (zero crime rate in the country), and bickered and fought and made up, and bickered and fought and made up, and bickered and fought and made up.

You know how when you’re single and you would simply glare at these irritating naglalandian couples in the corner of Starbucks while bitterly thinking “Maghihiwalay din kayo”? Exact same feeling. After the nth time of watching them fight over the pettiest things, I wished that they would just head home and never see each other again.

3. I must have wished really hard because they did break up over a lost passport and a missed return flight. She was fire and he was ice (their words, not mine) and they just weren’t MFEO. I was already good with that ending (hey, a one hour travelogue for a Php190 movie ticket in Festival Mall wasn’t all bad) but then it decided to jump three years later with Ben already engaged to another girl and Jen all bald and suffering from a brain tumor. Why? Why? Whyyyyy??

If two people weren’t meant to be, why should guilt be induced to prove that there wasn’t any love lost between them? Jen’s affliction was even used as a reason for her blatant irrationality (although it still didn’t support why she chose to wear her engagement ring on her middle finger just because of a bad manicure). Should I feel guilty about that as well?

4. Even in her bad films, I couldn’t remember Alessandra de Rossi ever giving a terrible performance. She was always this sensitive actress able to transcend any material given to her (even crap like Spirit of the Glass). I couldn’t say the same for her work in the first two-thirds of this movie. Pabebe acting just didn’t suit her well (no to baby talk and girls trying to be cute by saying “Plith”).

Plus, she looked far too intelligent and decent to be groping tomatoes in a farm for a photo op and even spitting on the ground and contaminating all the pananim. After getting dumped over that missed flight, Jen asked “Dito talaga sa Iceland? Dito mo sasabihin na ayaw mo ako pakasalan? Kung saan ang ganda ng sky?” Huh?? And she even found humor in the situation when she screamed “I will stay here in my country! Not this country. This is not my country!”. I felt really, really bad for Alex.

Even worse, she shaved her head for this mess (fyi, she was a producer of this movie with a story and concept credit so it must be a passion project worthy of a buzz cut). Brave move, yes, but let’s not forget that Demi Moore also won a Worst Actress Razzie for her shaved head work in G.I. Jane.

Side note: That scar on the back of her head looked like a strip of Play Doh. Eek!

5. Paolo Contis fared a bit better because he always had this pilyo, pang-asar vibe even during his Ang TV days that was apt for the character of Ben. Most people would probably be surprised that he could cry a river (and believe me, there were enough tears in that final thirty minutes to solve our country’s Maynilad problems). Nothing new though if you were a huge fan of that Aga Muhlach-Dayanara Torres fantasy Basta’t Kasama Kita.

6. My favorite part of this movie was when Ben complained that Jen wasn’t “decently” dressed and since she was a devoted Christian saving herself for marriage, it was a problem for him not to feel horny beside her (“Wala namang utak ‘to. Tanga ‘to eh!” referring to his shrinkage-proof member that wasn’t affected at all by the freezing weather.) I immediately (sinfully) thought, “Well, maybe she should pray over his erection”. And she did. Bwahahaha!

(It was also interesting to note that Jen completely forgot her Christian ways after getting sick by forcing herself on Ben and basically trying to covet another person’s jowa.)

7. My least favorite part was when BenJen did a duet and sang the entire version of Gary Valenciano’s “I Will Be Here” while sobbing like there was no tomorrow (okay, bad pun because there really was no tomorrow for Jen).

I hated it because: 1) I had always been averse to that song ever since it was played in a good friend’s wake, 2) all the crying felt like one of those acting workshops where a mentor would make you remember the saddest memory and force you to weep for thirty minutes as a sign that you could act and cry on cue, and 3) they sang an entire song. Again, why? To give the audience enough time to cry along with them? Repeat after me: emotional manipulation.

Side note: The dark humor toward the end of the movie (the fake dying, Jen’s sudden outbursts, etc.) felt really off, too. The hilariously robotic delivery of that nurse about the re-occurrence of Jen’s condition didn’t help, either.

8. How did I know that I was completely unaffected by all the sadness onscreen? While the couple was singing that entire (it had to be noted, yet again) death song, my brain was focused on the fly perched on Joey Marquez’s left shoulder. Malungkot kaya yung langaw mag-isa?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

TUPANG LIGAW (Rod Santiago, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Tupang Ligaw:

1. I really had no plans of watching this movie, but because of my great love for Sarah G., an R-16 rating that promised possible nudity, and just a little over one hour running time, I thought how bad could it be? (The answer was very.)

2. I hope that Matteo Guidicelli was a much better boyfriend than actor. Although he looked really good onscreen, his face barely registered any genuine emotion. His constant preening and difficulty in delivering his Filipino lines were just distracting. One scene involved a young kid aiming a loaded gun at him and he casually said, “Delikado ‘to, ok?” like he was just teaching him the dangers of tumbang preso. Can he just release a scandal, please?

3. Matteo played Abel Rosaryo and if his name wasn’t enough of a giveaway, he was the good son turned lost sheep out to seek revenge on the death of his prodigal brother at the hands of Paolo Contis’ Señor El Diablo (yup, this movie didn’t know the word subtlety) and his caricature goons. Oh, and said Diablo ruled Barrio Paraiso (ooh, at least it knew irony).

4. Barrio Paraiso was a stinkhole full of really nice people, so nice that the teens actually queued to buy their daily supply of drugs. The other characters in this forsaken town included a widowed prostitute (Ara Mina) and her young boy, an old haciendero with a borta caregiver fond of grey tank tops, and a cowboy hat-wearing priest. The said priest asked for Abel’s help because he was so concerned about his town’s current state (“Sana matulungan natin ang mga kabataan”). The next scene showed said teens…twerking. Miley Cyrus was the devil?

5. Señor El Diablo’s goons in the movie all carried machine guns that they never really used whenever Abel was around. They usually ended up pointing them at him, never firing (sayang ang bala?), and then just using them to make pukpok the bida. Seriously, these were the oppressors that ruled the poor barrio?

I bet Abel just spent a few hours watching Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon to prep for these fights. He actually put the late, great Fernando Poe, Jr. to shame by singlehandedly killing all goons in sight with his bare hands. I swear in one scene the said goons actually even lined up so that they could get punched one after the other.

6. The said R-16 rating proved to be a disappointment because it was mostly due to the constant throat-slitting. To be fair though, there were so many shots of Abel tucking the gun in the waistband of his jeans so we had more than enough glimpses of Matteo’s flawless belly. Such a tease!

7. Flashbacks galore. Every plot detail and motive needed one. I think the entire movie was actually half-flashbacks, half-action sequences.

And because the movie was so original, it had a scene where Matteo looked up at the high heavens, raised his arms, and let out a loud scream while the camera panned out for an aerial shot. (It was original because it didn’t rain.)

8. The shoddy production values were probably limited by the measly budget. The movie didn’t even bother with retakes. One scene had the camera on Matteo just waiting for his cue to speak (if that wasn’t bad enough, he still missed his cue). In another, he flipped a table out of anger but since it didn’t fully turn, he just flipped it again all in the same take.

The sound of a passing tricycle would be much louder than the actual conversation. Even a vase used in one scene was fake because it didn’t break when it was accidentally hit by a character.

The movie’s producer at least knew her priorities. She was addressed with a Ms. on the opening and closing credits. More importantly, she played a crucial role as Tiger Rose, uhm, actually her character had no bearing in the entire movie until a last minute explanation on one of the last few scenes. This reminded me so much of another producer (ahem, GMA Films) that had to be included as an extra in every scene of all her movies.

9. One of my favorite scenes here was when Ara Mina stepped out of her room that night with her boobs almost popping out of the plunging neckline of her skimpy bedazzled black dress (with matching floral clutch) and told Matteo that she was off to work and he still asked what kind of work she had.

Uh, I surely hope she wasn’t a call center agent (or worse, Team Leader).

I was already reaching for my inhaler by the time Ara replied, “Eh di sa beerhouse.”

10. Speaking of said beerhouse, the movie’s idea of being progressive was having a transgendered prostitute dance in a club full of presumably straight men. Good move for equal opportunity, right? And then the said transgender did a somersault before eating a live chicken. (Fear the wrath of the LGBT!)

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆