MOVIE REVIEW: FENG SHUI 2 (Chito Roño, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Feng Shui 2:

1. Roño mentioned in a recent interview that he didn’t want to do a sequel since he didn’t want to make the same movie. He named this Feng Shui and it was supposed to be a continuation of the original story. The title was apt since it was basically a retread of the original.

2. The previously novel idea of people dying based on their animal signs proved to be stale this time around. Who could forget the well-thought out sequence in the original where Lotlot de Leon (born on the year of the horse) got hit by an ironing board and fell to her death on cases of Red Horse? None of the deaths here had the same impact.

3. Every death had to be explained and every animal connection had to be in full view just in case the audience didn’t get it. What happened to subtlety? We’re not idiots.

4. Rat killer, Red Bull, Doug wearing a dogtag, Playboy shirt and Red Rabbit fire extinguisher, Snake Island truck, chicharon, these were the best that they could think of?

5. Bad dubbing. Really bad dubbing.

6. A lot of the characters here had never seen a bagua. I guess they weren’t able to watch the original movie.

7. Am I the only one who found it funny that a movie about karma (or close to it) actually starred Carmi Martin? Carmi Martin was really just around the corner.

8. As expected, there were mini-commercials shilling products endorsed by the stars. And so we got all the reasons why we needed to buy Nxled lights by Akari. I suddenly missed that Chunkee dinner scene in the original.

9. One clunky scene had Coco being thrown around by an invisible being. The special effect was too funny. And too lame. What was that?

10. And yet another scene was ripped from The Grudge (the eye and hair shot, you’ll remember when you see it).

11. Kris Aquino had this perpetually constipated look like she was watching Darla consume a whole lechon.

12. I guess all the zumba did her good with all those running scenes.

13. I saw the movie with the noisiest crowd ever (both fun and annoying at the same time). They were screaming their heads off as soon as the lights dimmed. I think they had lots of fun shouting in every scare scene regardless if these weren’t really scary.

14. The ending hinted at another sequel (hey Direk Chito what happened to that no sequel thingie?) and the final scene tried to be social media relevant with the bagua being shared online. So the third movie will be The Ring? Digital na ang karma? Wait, you can’t see your reflection on a picture! How will that work? I give up.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published December 26, 2014.)

MOVIE REVIEW: #JOWABLE (Darryl Yap, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Minsan natatawa na lang ako kapag nakakabasa ng viral post sa Facebook na “10 Realizations After Watching (Name of Buzzworthy Movie)”. Usually kasi napaka-basic ng mga thoughts na nakalista kaya napapaisip ako kung sadyang na-realize lang ba niya talaga ang mga yun after mapanood ang pelikula o isinali na lang lahat ng maisip na hugot na pwedeng i-relate para mag-trend. Very similar sa mga yun ang feeling ko dito na parang Spoken Word Poetry Presents Hugot: The Movie. Like, totoo gurl ngayon mo lang nalaman na mas importante ang pagmamahal ng nanay at mga kaibigan mo kesa sa search for a jowa?

Hindi ako magugulat kung maging box office hit ito kasi sikat talaga online ang source material (pati ang ibang polarizing short films made by the same group). Admittedly, I liked some (parts) of the shorts kasi nakakatawa naman talaga. Bearable ang specific jump cuts style at linyahan niya na puno ng hugot at sigawan. Unfortunately, what worked on a free platform didn’t translate well sa big screen na may kasamang ticket price of Php240. Parang mas mahirap tumawa kapag may bayad na yung recycled material na napanood mo na sa Facebook. Kung tutuusin, even yung majority of the film’s highlights andun na din sa trailer (halos lahat ng scenes dun were just extended to around 10-15 minutes pero wala masyadong added humor).

Sayang kasi ang galing talaga dito ni Kim Molina na super committed sa role, lalo na dun sa scenes that didn’t require her to overact. Nung nasa chapel siya na nagmamakaawa for a jowa, mas naramdaman ko gaano siya ka-desperate to feel loved nung huminahon na siya habang sinasabi ang linyang “Bigyan mo naman ako ng isang taong magmamahal sa akin, Lord”. (Of course, undeniable naman na mahusay din siya kumanta. Fave ko pa rin yung biglang birit niya ng chorus ng Narito Ako sa Bossaboss short.)

Sana lang talaga mas sympathetic ang character niya na si Elsa Mangahas. Jowable daw siya at nasa kanya “lahat ng ginugusto ng mga lalaki sa mundo” pero nuknukan naman ang sama ng ugali niya kasi tinawag niyang mukhang kulubot na bayag at bilog at mukhang bola ang mga kaibigan niya. Minura niya ang isang tindera kasi binentahan siya ng couple shirt tapos alcoholic pa siya na may dalang thermos ng Red Horse at araw-araw nagpapakalasing kahit kasama ang isang bus ng mga bata. Ang idea niya ng perfect girlfriend eh yung magsisilbi ng pulutan sa jowa niya na naglalaro ng DOTA. Tapos blatantly racist pa siya na di makilala ang Indian (also ang daming putok jokes dito) na naka-one night stand kasi lahat naman sila naka-turban. Sorry girl pero baka hindi mo deserve ang wish mo na “madurog ang mani”.

But wait, I haven’t even discussed the other problematic parts tulad nung pagsampal sa kanya ni “Bumbay” during sex na supposedly comedic. Or yung attempted suicide na mined for laughs (di ko din maintindihan ang logic ng nanay niya dito na si Kakai Bautista na pinakamamahal daw nya ang anak nya pero uminom ng sandamakmak na vitamins matapos iwan ng jowa; also, kaya daw niya mahal na mahal anak niya eh kasi yun ang mag-aalaga sa kanya pagtanda niya luh!). Or yung scenes na kelangan laging nakabukaka si Kim or labas ang panty or basta naghubad na lang yung mga kasamahan niya down to their bras (bakit??).

(Side note: Yung pa-apology ba sa teachers eh dahil sa flak na natanggap ng filmmakers dun sa isa nilang short? Nasaan naman yung para sa child rape victims?)

Anyway, kung bibigyan nyo lang din ako ng luma at corny jokes (I’m sure narinig na ng lahat yung sa nag-wish tapos nadulas kaya naging mukhang kike) eh di sana inilabas nyo na lang ng libre sa FB. Hindi naman pwedeng basta mag-viral lang eh gagawan na ng pelikula. What’s next, Mimiyuuuh the Movie (Drink Your Water Bish)?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: CHILDREN OF THE RIVER (Maricel Cabrera-Cariaga, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Feeling ko sobrang paborito ng writer/director nito ang Call Me By Your Name kaya gumawa siya ng sariling coming-of-age movie tapos siyempre pangalan ng bida eh Elias. Pero baka di pa obvious kaya pinalitan ang nickname niya na… wait for it, Elia!! (Sana intentional ang double meaning niya na slang for libog, no?) At syempre may bisikleta scene anuba.

Sayang kasi maayos naman ang kuwento ng pagkakaibigan pero it needed a much better storyteller (okay diretsahan na, ang chaka ng direction). May instances na di ko alam kung nakainom na ng dalawang bote ng Red Horse ang cameraman. Tapos marami pang eksena na mas malinaw ang background na bougainvilla kesa sa character na nagsasalita. At ano itong excessive fascination sa fog machine? Hala siya.

Sayang kasi magaling ang mga bata. Bagay na bagay kay Noel Comia, Jr. (na minahal ko bilang si Kiko Boksingero) ang nagdadalagang si Elia. May cute moments sila ni Juancho Trivino na parang sa Maximo Oliveros lang. Ang authentic pa na meron siyang pimples sa noo tapos nag-crack usually ang boses niya.

Pati si Junyka Santarin (na magaling sa Musmos na Sumibol sa Gubat ng Digma) napaka-natural din umarte bilang resident fag hag and supportive bff. Ang ganda ng chemistry nila lalo na kapag nagkukulitan.

Eh kaso naging sobrang political sa dulo. Lumabas ang real meaning ng TV Patrol acting dun sa breakdown scene ng mga na-biyuda. Tapos yung eulogy ni Jay Manalo biglang naging SONA with matching palakpakan sa dulo. Nakakaiyak ata dapat ang eksena pero natawa na lang ako nung bigla niya sinabi ang bulutong-tubig.

Call meh by your name nga.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: WALWAL (Jose Javier Reyes, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Walwal:

1. Being a certified coot (aka ‘thunder cats’) that recently turned another year older, I previously thought that the word ‘walwal’ had a dirty connotation (like it was something done in secret inside a locked bathroom that could result to hairy palms). I brushed up on my millennial-speak and it apparently meant wallowing in excesses (drinking, partying, smoking, drug use, sexual activity) until one loses his bearings and ends up living a directionless life. Now where was all of that in the movie?

I was expecting to walk out of the theater feeling traumatized and bemoaning the future of the world with the kind of self-entitled kids nowadays, but that didn’t happen. Was my Titos and Titas of Manila-certified morals supposed to get scandalized by the sight of these young boys drinking a few bottles of Red Horse beer (curiously labelled ‘I Drunk Dial A Lot’)? Yan na yung walwal? Eh wala pala kayo sa lolo ko eh…

2. Billed as this generation’s Pare Ko (a 90’s teen classic also directed by Jose Javier Reyes), this one felt very much like my lolo was educating me on the importance of using the best Instagram filter. Were millennials really this boring? What happened to those neurotic kids that swam face-first in a toilet bowl full of their own vomit in Gino Santos’ The Animals? (Now that one shocked me to my core.)

This just didn’t feel like it was telling the story of a specific generation. It was the same old cliches (lovelife problems, teenage pregnancy, another networking joke??) recycled for a new breed of young stars.

3. Through this movie, I learned that millennials were also being pressured by parents to select a college degree that had always been planned for them. When Marco (Kiko Estrada) told his mom (Cheska Diaz) that he wanted to shift to Tourism, she replied, “Tourism? Anong gusto mo mangyari? Tourist guide?”. (Hala momshie, mukhang kelangan mo rin bumalik ng college and major in sense of humor.)

In another scene, Bobby (Donny Pangilinan) told his french fries magnate father (Rolando Inocencio) that he wanted to be a filmmaker and father said, “Itigil mo na ang ilusyon mo na ikaw ang susunod na Lino Brocka!” to which he replied, “Brillante Mendoza!”. (DDS pala si Bobby.)

4. Jerome Ponce (as Intoy) was the clear standout in the young cast, a feat considering that most of his dramatic scenes were with the great Angeli Bayani (loved that Urian reference). His story about the search for his estranged father (Ricardo Cepeda) was definitely the most affecting. Sadly, he was also saddled with the worst possible dialogues:

• In a conversation with his half-brother…

Bro: “Magkakaiba ba tayo ng tatay, Kuya? Yung sa’yo stuntman, yung sa akin seaman, yung kay bunso tubero.”

Intoy: “Wag ka magpapaniwala sa chismis.”

Bro: “Kinonfirm ko kay Nanay.”

(Hala sya, confirmed na pala more tanong pa.)

• In a conversation with Bobby…

Bobby: “Bro, bakit cannot be reached ka lagi?”

Intoy: “Wala akong load eh.”

(Harujosko!)

• In a Facebook Messenger chat with his father:

Intoy (typed): “I am the son of Ramona Martinez.”

Father (typed): “How are you related to her?”

(Ay itay!!)

I also felt bad for him when his mother said: “Ang pangalan ng tatay mo ay Diosdado Pindodo. Isa yan sa dahilan bakit ko siya iniwan. Ang bantot!” I would have understood it more if she called him out for his reading slash comprehension skills.

5. Continuity alert: Dondi’s (Elmo Magalona) haircut kept changing in every scene. Also, I wonder if his really tight jeggings affected the way he spoke throughout the movie. I wasn’t surprised when his girlfriend (Jane de Leon) dumped him for a lesbian instead.

6. Since Bobby and close friend Ruby (Kisses Delavin, dressed up as budget cosplay Jolina Magdangal circa Chuva Choo Choo) were supposed to be film experts, they were required to say terms like ‘existential study of post-digital life’, ‘neorealism’, ‘Pasolini’, and ‘Franco Zeffirelli’. And yet when they played a random trivia game where they guessed the film that starred Guy Pearce and John Leguizamo, they both agreed that it was called ‘To Wong Foo, With Love Julie Newmar’. (Nope!)

Pinapainit ng mga batang ‘to ang ulo ko. Waiter, one Cali Shandy please!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

HISTORIOGRAPHIKA ERRATA (Richard Somes, 2017)

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Like a loud, annoying, and horny uncle in a family reunion that had one too many Red Horse beers delivered his unsolicited version of Drunk (Philippine) History. In his made-up story, Andres Bonifacio was played by Jett Pangan in a wig and baro’t saya, looking very much like John Lapus in drag and ready to battle the Moron 5.

His choice of metaphor for the rape of our country was Nathalie Hart with her permanent bee-stung lips literally getting passed around and pumped from all angles while delivering several variations of the line “Wag mong iputok sa loob!”.

Beware of this uncle. Tito Jo, wag po!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: BLOODY CRAYONS (Topel Lee, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Bloody Crayons:

1. During the height of Scream fever in the late ’90s, Viva Films attempted to create (read: blatantly ripped-off) a Pinoy version of that popular slasher flick and came up with the terrible Sumigaw Ka…Hanggang Gusto Mo. It was directed by Eric Quizon who had the audacity to cast himself as the movie’s killer and also included the entire cast of T.G.I.S. (kids today would never know the kilig brought by the Wacks and Peachy love team), plus other GMA Artist Center artists question mark.

In one scene, the killer (probably a fan of Mara del Valle) was running after Gladys Reyes who actually tried to escape by climbing up a fireplace. She ended up getting roasted, of course (silly girl, not even Becky would go up a chimeneya to run away from Ms. Minchin).

It was the kind of So Bad, It’s Horrible type of movie that you would only want to see once in your life due to severe trauma, but couldn’t resist to mock whenever it would get shown on cable. It was also the reason why a number of my friends that I forced to watch with me ended up swearing off ever watching Pinoy films in cinemas. I hope you could forgive me, FDCP.

2. Bloody Crayons would probably be the millennial equivalent of that trashy movie, only this time produced by Star Cinema and starred a number of Star Magic starlets. Most of the previous horror films directed by Topel Lee had obvious influences from popular Asian counterparts and this one was no exception (albeit more of Hollywood movies from the opening film-within-a-film sequence used in the Scream series down to the other ones reminiscent of the Final Destination series, Identity, Cabin in the Woods, Don’t Breathe, and countless others of the same genre).

I hadn’t read the Wattpad novel that this was based on so I really wasn’t sure if the lack of originality was from the actual material or the treatment itself. (I was also confused by the separate original story credit given to its three writers when this was clearly an adaptation.)

3. The horror genre had always been the waterloo of our best local directors so I really wasn’t expecting much from this slasher flick. Unfortunately, it still lacked the fun and excitement of seeing mostly annoying characters get killed one by one. Really, all I hoped for was that the cast would be killed according to their acting prowess (naturally starting with the most bano ones), but that obviously didn’t happen with Ronnie Alonte and Elmo Magalona as two of the three remaining survivors.

I actually couldn’t decide who gave the worse performance since both of them could easily replace Aljur Abrenica as the real-life Machete. Ronnie still sounded like a talking robot jakono while Elmo acted like he was a hypnotized victim of the Budol-Budol Gang (except in one kitchen scene where he delivered his lines like he was having a seizure, complete with flailing hand movements). Seriously, mas gusto ko pa si Elmo nung nagpagulong-gulong siya sa burol with Julie Ann San Jose in Just One Summer.

4. Wait, a young wannabe director obsessed with shooting a horror movie near a body of water? Oh, Dawson Leery!!

5. I still couldn’t fathom why there had to be a sequence where the entire gang decided to go for a swim at the beach and they took their clothes off one at a time while the camera voyeuristically lingered on their young bodies (slow motion shots of topless, abs-less guys and granny bathing suit-wearing girls, really?!).

I could almost hear the director saying, “Pasensiya na kayo sa acting ni Ronnie. Eto additional three seconds ng pusod nya para di kayo masyadong lugi.” Next time please leave this type of sexploitation to the experts (yes, Seiko Films of course!).

6. Speaking of acting, I really liked the performances of Jane Oineza and Maris Racal. I wish they could be given more to do in future Star Cinema movies other than the typical best friend or sister roles.

On the other hand, could somebody please tell Yves Flores not to imitate Jake Cuenca’s “akting na akting” delivery? People laughed hysterically in the scene where he was screaming “Bro, anong nangyari sa’yo??” to a corpse with huge stab marks on its neck. Was he gunning for the PMPC Star Award for Best New Movie Actor?

7. If you’d seen a lot of horror movies (or read a lot of R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike) with fake twists and red herrings (this one reminded me of The Last Act), it really wasn’t too hard to guess the identity of the killer. All it took was just a single head shot to ruin the surprise.

8. I was really interested to know more about the Bloody Crayons game since it looked fun to play during a barkada night out. Sadly, I couldn’t see any group including it in any of their parties any time soon since the rules were just too complex (relative to Truth or Dare). Who would even remember what each color stood for when all of you would be presumably drunk on Red Horse?

Also, was it just my oily skin or do crayons really not work as markers on the face? Did they use craypas instead? So this should have been Bloody Craypas?

9. Where was this movie shot? (I noticed one of the characters was carrying a Bohol bag so…) The place looked gorgeous. At least maganda ang cinematography.

10. One character’s words of wisdom to another standing on a cliff: “Mag-ingat ka ha. Pag mahulog ka dyan, baka di ka na makabalik.”

Wehhh, di nga??

11. I wasn’t sure if I laughed the loudest when the group used a rattan chair as a battering ram, or when a character was miraculously saved from a gunshot by his dog tag, or when Umagang Kay Ganda suddenly played during the final sequence.

12. BBC One recently adapted Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None into a mini-series. Better actors, better production values, better use of your time.

13. Hanggang sa horror movie may hugot pa rin ang hindi maka-move on na killer? Tengene lungs.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆