MOVIE REVIEW: WASHINGTON SQUARE (Agnieszka Holland, 1997)

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Even with a wonderfully talented cast that included Jennifer Jason Leigh, Albert Finney, and Dame Maggie Smith, it was still no match with the brilliant ensemble of Ikaw Pa Lang ang Minahal (Queen Maricel 4ever!).

I really liked the glaring differences with its Pinoy counterpart, though (the absolute lack of melodrama and camp, a less caricaturish and more caring Doctor, a restrained yet equally bittersweet ending).

Your adaptation’s next, Miss de Havilland.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published June 10, 2018.)

MOVIE REVIEW: I AM SAM (Jessie Nelson, 2001)

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In the hilarious and incredibly politically-incorrect Tropic Thunder, Robert Downey, Jr. in full blackface said, “Never go full retard. Ask Sean Penn in I Am Sam. He went full retard and went home empty handed” and this movie was never the same again.

On a related note, a young Dakota Fanning was spectacular here and her name would also never be the same again after entering the Pinoy gay lexicon.

Loved, loved, loved the mostly Beatles soundtrack.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published April 27, 2017.)

MOVIE REVIEW: ABANDONADA (Joel Lamangan, 2000)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Bakit nga ba naging masama ang connotation ng salitang “katulong”? Masasabihan ka agad na bastos at matapobre kapag yan ang ginamit mo sa halip na “kasambahay”. Malinaw naman na ang root word nito ay tulong kaya angkop na translation ng house help. Wala naman nakakahiya o nakakababa sa pagtulong. Kapag naririnig ko nga ang salitang kasambahay parang kasama lang sa bahay at walang ginagawa kahit sila talaga ang nagbabanat ng buto araw-araw.

Anyway, naalala ko lang yan kasi pre-woke era pa ang pelikulang ito. Masasabihan ngayon na hindi politically-correct bilang katulong pa ang gamit na salita. Very Pinoy ang drama kasi si Gemma (Maricel Soriano) na nakulong sa Canada at nahiwalay sa kanyang anak ay umuwi ng Pilipinas matapos makalaya at namasukan bilang maid sa mismong bahay ng kanyang asawang si Edwin (Edu Manzano) na kasal na sa ibang babaeng si Cindy (Angelu de Leon). (Nahilo ba kayo slight?)

Maayos naman ang paglalahad ng class distinctions. Sa sobrang laki ng bahay ay bihira magkita ang mga may-ari at mga kasambahay. Advantage ito para kay Gemma kasi hindi siya pwedeng mamukhaan ng demonyo niyang ex (na sa mga flashbacks ay ipinakitang lasenggero at abusive).

Pero dahil nga very Pinoy ang takbo ng kwento, naging conventional sa bandang gitna na umabot sa sampalan, kidnapan, at barilan sa loob ng isang sinehan (na di nalalayo sa ginamit sa Serbis). Nawala ang malinaw na motivations ng mga characters. Parang lahat sila biglang hindi na nag-iisip ng tama.

Sayang kasi ang daming themes na interesting kung natutukan lang. Yung family abandonment issue related sa OFWs, yung subplot ng euthanasia, at kahit yung battered wife syndrome. Very burgis pa ng character ni Cindy kasi after siya bugbugin ng asawa eh naisipan niyang… mag-horseback riding. Yes, basag ang mukha niya pero ang cute ng equestrian outfit niya.

Yan talaga ang hirap kapag hindi mo nakikita ang iyong mga kasama sa bahay. Walang magsasabi na kelangan mo pa dagdagan ang iyong concealer.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: MORON 5 AND THE CRYING LADY (Wenn Deramas, 2012)

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Deramas scraped the bottom of the barrel with this idiotic movie filled with corny dated jokes and groan-worthy punchlines. I thought Praybeyt Benjamin (currently the highest-grossing Pinoy movie of all time) was his most pitiful work with its strained humor but it just got dethroned. At least that movie had a genuine comedian in Vice Ganda; this one had five actors all doing their darndest to be funny. Failing to elicit laughs would be an understatement. My constant eye-rolling almost caused a seizure. There was only one good bit involving John Lapus brilliantly imitating the cast of Shaider. Everything else was the usual piece of crap expected from the director’s brand of comedy.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published April 10, 2012.)

MOVIE REVIEW: HITMAN (Cesar Montano, 2012)

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If Montano was trying to bring back the glory days of Pinoy action movies, then he had ultimately failed with this piece of crap. Except for the opening credits (that didn’t feature the usual red fonts), everything in this movie was horrendous. The actors could barely act (Sam Pinto could have been replaced by a mannequin and nobody would have noticed), the screenplay was one big mess (did we really have to hear Montano comment on all the action that was happening onscreen?), and the direction was simply sloppy.

This was the kind of movie that you’d: 1) kick yourself in the head for wasting time and money on, and 2) wish would end after 30 minutes. Easily one of the worst movies of the year.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published March 23, 2012.)

MOVIE REVIEW: SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION FROM LILIA CUNTAPAY (Antoinette Jadaone, 2011)

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Even with the “aswang lady” headlining this faux documentary, the only scary thing here was how vastly underutilized Ms. Lilia Cuntapay remained in our local industry. Sure, she got stereotyped as the ultimate kid’s nightmare but her acting skills (shown here in its full glory) deserved to be in more than just horror movies. Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, this was one of the best Pinoy films in 2011 and possibly of all-time. I’m surprised it didn’t reap a lot of awards from local award-giving bodies this year, including one for Nanay Lilia. It just made this movie even more powerful and real.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published November 18, 2012.)

MOVIE REVIEW: CHUB CHASER (Crisaldo Pablo, Remar Mallari, Bobby Galura, Jonathan Batoy, 2010)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Ano ba ‘tong mga pinapanood ko? Damn you, COVID-19!!

Obviously gay fantasy ito kasi bawal magsuot ng underwear ang mga lalaki. If ever meron man suot, kelangan hubarin bago lumabas ng frame ang characters. Ang mga roommates kelangan sabay-sabay maligo sa isang banyo tapos kanya-kanyang frontal nudity paglabas. Lahat nangyayari habang may soft-core porn music sa background. (It took four directors to come up with this??)

Medyo weird lang kasi hindi siya tungkol sa isang chub chaser kundi sa isang chabelita (named Chubi, naturally). Nakakalungkot yung reality na sobrang discriminated sa gay community yung chubs tulad ng effems and bottoms. Kaya every time makipag-hook up si Chubi dito eh lagi siyang rejected. Kahit matandang kalbo yung ni-meet niya eh nilait pa siya at tinawag na majubis. Sayang hindi na-explore ang theme kasi ang objective lang naman talaga ng pelikula eh to satisfy your queeriosity (meaning kebs sa art of filmmaking basta may gratuitous gay sex and nudity every twenty minutes).

Mas magaling pa umarte yung mga high school classmates ko kesa sa cast nito (maliban kay Pinoy Pink Film Kween Chamyto Aguedan). Parang on the spot lang pinag-isipan yung mga sequences. Ang haba ng mga eksena na naglalakad lang ang mga potential hook-ups ni Chubi papunta sa apartment niya. Kaya din siguro tumataba siya kasi naubos na niya ang isang bag ng Clover Chips bago pa sila makarating.

Fat people deserve some love, too? Tell me something I don’t personally know.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: INANG YAYA (Pablo Biglang-awa, Veronica Velasco, 2006)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Siguro kung ililista ko lahat ng gusto kong sabihin tungkol sa pelikulang ito, aabutin ako ng 10,000 words no exag. Kasing-dami yan ng patak ng luha ko sa sobrang daming beses ko na din siya napanood.

Sino ba ang Maricelian sa Young Critics Circle? Wag ka aalis diyan ha dahil ikaw lang talaga ang may taste for recognizing her excellent performances (even in genre films like Vampira). As a huge fan of Maricel Soriano, ipaglalaban ko na ito ang kanyang best performance ever (close second yung critically-lauded Ikaw Pa Lang ang Minahal). Napaka-understated kasi ng pag-arte niya dito. Nawawala ang usual acting tics na hate ng Manunuris sa kanya kaya never siya nanalo ng Urian.

Kung tutuusin, very anti-Maricel ang atake niya sa role ni Mommy Yaya Norma. Nung bumili siya ng “Skeechers” para sa anak na si Ruby (a wonderful Tala Santos) tapos ibinato lang nito kasi fake at pagtatawanan daw siya ng mga kaklase, yung tahimik na pag-upo niya grabe gusto ko siya yakapin. Walang hagulgol, pigil ang pag-iyak habang hawak ang rejected na pinag-ipunang regalo. Ang sakit sakit.

Iisipin mo na typical Pinoy melodrama siya kaya nakakatuwa na medyo na-subvert yung genre. Lutang pa rin ang issue on class differences pero kaunti lang ang tropes na ginamit. Masyado nga ako nasanay sa mga teleserye kaya nung may eksena si Norma na nagpa-plantsa akala ko meron masusunog o nung pinagdala niya ng mainit na tsaa si Ruby, akala ko mabubuhos sa matapobreng lola (Liza Lorena). Buti walang ganun dito. Napakabait pa ng mga amo niya (Zoren Legaspi and Sunshine Cruz) na mapapaisip ka kung meron ba talagang tulad nila in real life or nakasanayan lang natin na maldita lagi si madam at mas mababa ang pagtrato niya sa mga yaya/maid. Hindi ito pelikula para sa mga cynical na tao.

Grabe, I can quote this film for days.

Louise (a charming Erika Oreta): “Eww, why are you eating the head of the shrimp?”

Ruby: “It’s mah-sah-rap kasi.”

HAHAHAHAHA!!

Ang galing talaga ng mga batang ‘to. Ang ganda pa ng chemistry nilang tatlo kaya durog na durog ang puso ko pagdating sa realistic ending. Such an underrated gem.

Rating: ★★★★★