HIHINTAYIN KITA SA LANGIT (Carlos Siguion-Reyna, 1991)

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Number of “i-Dawn Zulueta mo ako” moments: 3 (2 with Dawn and 1 with Jackie Lou Blanco)

Grabe yung buwis-buhay love scenes sa moors ng Wuthering Heights, I mean, breakwaters ng Batanes.

Na-miss ko bigla magbasa ng Mills & Boon romances.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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THE LOVE AFFAIR (Nuel Naval, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Love Affair:

1. Let’s get this out of the way. If you’re a woman who feels a sense of redemption and triumph in seeing a mistress put in her proper place (refer to No Other Woman, The Mistress, The Legal Wife, and countless viral videos of wives confronting and ultimately bitchslapping their husbands’ kulasisi), then nothing should stop you from seeing this movie. Definitely no judgments here. Kabit movies have always been a good source of entertainment for us Pinoys.

2. Speaking of kabit movies, there were so many similarities between this and Maryo J. delos Reyes’ A Love Story. It involved a doctor meeting a future lover through an accident, multiple flashbacks, water sports, and confrontation scenes that all it needed was an out of the country location. But then again, all kabit movies usually follow the same formula so I shouldn’t have expected anything new.

3. I was completely distracted by the poor production values. All those out of focus shots, bad lighting, and horrendous dubbing were unusual for a Star Cinema glossy movie.

4. I know that people lose their bearings and cool when placed in stressful situations but I was still shocked by the words coming out of these professionals’ mouths. For a doctor and lawyer, their liberal use of the words suso, or libog, or Shit, or Fuck just sounded really off. Maybe the dialogue was indeed sprinkled with these vulgar words for shock value. Either that or I was just being a complete prude.

5. Bea Alonzo to ex-boyfriend Tom Rodriguez: “I know this is your house, but I need you to leave. Kelangan ko ng buong araw para makapag-impake ng gamit ko.”

Nasaan ang pride, girl?

6. I feared a lot for the characters’ health and wellness. Lagi na lang umuulan and almost all of them got soaked because they just loved making drama under the pouring rain. Have they never heard of pneumonia?

7. I had a great time watching Bea’s cuts and bruises appear, disappear and re-appear in several scenes. If you would look closely in one of the stairs scenes, Bea’s shirt was actually stained on the back with the same color as her arm bruises. No wonder they keep disappearing.

8. If you’re a lawyer applying for a job in a prestigious firm, won’t you even try to cover the cut on your forehead and try not to look like a walking liability? I can recommend a good concealer dear.

9. This movie gave a whole new meaning to serendipity. Bea and Richard Gomez just kept bumping into each other in the weirdest places and situations. The fact that they didn’t end up together only supported the theory of #WalangForever.

10. In one scene, Richard offered a ride to Bea:

“You wanna borrow my car?”
“No, I’ll just use Grab.”

And with that, GrabTaxi just one-upped Uber.

11. I loved the best friend/conscience played by Ina Feleo. She was judgmental with reason and that scene where she slapped Bea silly was justified. I could only wish for more friends just like her.

12. Whatever happened to Ana Capri? She played the stereotypical pokpok role here but she’s still one of the best pokpoks in Philippine Cinema. Please give her more projects that will put her great acting skills to good use (e.g. Pila Balde, Live Show, Sa Paraiso ni Efren).

13. Walang ibang kinakain ang pamilya nina Richard at Dawn kundi ice cream at kape? Like really. For real. In real life.

14. Can someone explain the following:

a. Why does Richard have a neck pimple in all past and present scenes? When will he pop that damn thing?

b. What happened to the lips of Evangeline Pascual? Call a doctor, stat!

c. Is there any effect if a defibrillator is used on top of tubes or an actual hospital gown?

d. Can anyone identify the man wearing a blue shirt in the elevator scene and explain why he suddenly disappeared in the next scene?

e. Why is every day Valentine’s Day in this movie?

15. I did not fancy that daddy swimwear of Richard. He went swimming with shades on his head, a white shirt and shorts, and a watch. Cringe.

16. And there was this sex sa batuhan scene that made me really uncomfortable just thinking of all the scratches that will get inflicted on Bea’s supple back. And don’t get me started on all the lumot.

17. Bea typed “Vincent Ramos neurosurgeon wife” in Google and all the pictures of Dawn suddenly showed up. Wow, how popular was Richard’s character?

18. As expected, there was a confrontation scene between Dawn and Bea wherein two intelligent, classy professionals forgot their breeding and good manners and tried to outwit and outbitch each other. These two great actresses deserved much better. Besides, nothing could ever beat the classic Maricel-Zsa Zsa scene in Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin:

“Wag mo kong ma-Terry Terry. Sagutin mo ang tanong ko ‘Are you FACKING my husband??!'”

19. “Pagod na pagod na ko ginagago ng mga taong mahal ko.” Naku, deserved mo yan girl.

20. Was I the only one wishing for John Lloyd Cruz or Zanjoe Marudo to suddenly show up in the end and deliver the typical Star Cinema (really) happy ending? Cue Alamid’s Your Love.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 13, 2015.)

IKAW PA LANG ANG MINAHAL (Carlos Siguion-Reyna, 1992)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ikaw Pa Lang ang Minahal:

1. In a recent screening of the remastered and restored version of this Pinoy classic, Maricel Soriano spilled some scalding tea when she (jokingly) expressed her disappointment on not winning any major award for her performance in this film which she considered one of her favorites (she lost in the Big Four to Lorna Tolentino for Narito ang Puso Ko). She then mentioned that her loss at least inspired her to come up with much better output and more collaborations with director Carlos Siguion-Reyna. 

You could ask any Maricelian and they would definitely share the same frustration, including the fact that she had never won an Urian award. Some would probably even bring up these unfounded rumors that Lolit Solis (then manager of Lorna) used her clout and bribed the academy (Famas, FAP) and press (Star Awards) voters and that a couple of Manunuris (Urian) had a particular dislike for Maricel and blocked most of her wins.

Regardless of the eventual results, the truth remained though that her flawless turn as Adela Sevilla would be one for the books. To paraphrase her character: “Mamahalin nila ako. Mamahalin nila ako para sa inyong lahat na hindi nagmahal sa akin!”.

2. I originally saw this when it was first released back in 1992 and it felt surreal watching it again in a theater 26 years later. I didn’t even know back then that this was an adaptation of William Wyler’s 1949 film, The Heiress with Olivia de Havilland, which in turn was based on Henry James’ novel, Washington Square (did I miss the acknowledgments during the opening/closing credits or was there really no mention of this?). I was so clueless that when I saw the 1997 Washington Square film with Jennifer Jason Leigh, I wanted to personally write to Direk Carlos that somebody copied his masterpiece (thank goodness for ISP Bonanza’s slow dial-up connection!).

3. To this day, I still couldn’t get over the fact that Dr. Maximo Sevilla (a terrific Eddie Gutierrez) was a renowned doctor considering that he couldn’t even perform basic CPR. He almost crushed his dying wife’s rib cage and never resorted to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and he even followed the same process with his dying daughter several years later (thankfully, the latter survived). At least his character made me understand the cariño brutal way that my mother used to raise all of her kids (if you’re reading this mom, I only included that to raise my word count).

Also, it was so ironic that the coldhearted Dr. Sevilla was actually right from the start in seeing through the real motives of David Javier (a wily Richard Gomez). Minsan na nga lang magka-Javier na character eh tuso pa. (Side note: Richard used to be my mom’s favorite local actor. Ipinaglihi niya ang youngest brother ko sa kanya. Ayun nakuha naman ni utol ang nunal sa right temple ni Richard hahaha!)

4. There were so many moments here that crushed my heart (Dr. Sevilla enumerating his regrets on having a pathetic daughter, Adela’s waterfall breakdown scene, the forced writing of the will, the deathbed reconciliation, etc.), but the scene that made me cry the most didn’t even have any dialogue (just some background music). It was the part where Adela was sitting inside her room, her face a mix of emotions, and then she finally smiled because she felt loved. She stood up, got a pink flower from the bouquet that David gave her, stood near the window, smelled the flower, and broke into tears. Yung feeling na “Lord thank you at nagka-jowa pa ako akala ko talaga mamamatay na akong single at walang magmamahal sa akin!”.

Seriously though, parang ako ang naka-jackpot ng jowa while watching this woman (tormented all her life by her disapproving dad even if she was a skillful manggagantsilyo) experience the gift of happiness that she deserved. (Again, Maricel didn’t win anything for this??)

5. That scene where Adela in glasses and wearing the dowdiest clothes stood next to the glamorous portrait of her mom (also named Adela btw and played by the lovely Dawn Zulueta) spoke volumes. Direk Carlos employed the same juxtaposition technique in Inagaw Mo and Lahat sa Akin to effectively differentiate social classes. Such a brilliant director (and still my favorite local one).

(Side note: Maricel in an old maid’s costume still looked gorgeous, sorry, but I was willing to suspend my disbelief.)

6. Anybody would want to have a kunsintidora aunt like Tiyang Paula. She was a welcome comic relief in this heavy drama. “Mukhang matindi ang sipon mo at kelangan mo pang lunurin sa alcohol.” Nyahahaha!

Sadly, Charito Solis was an acting legend who was gone way too soon.

7. Choice quotes for some melodramatic moments in your life…

• “Hindi baleng pulubi, basta hindi ahas!”

“Hindi baleng ahas, basta mahal ko!”

• “Bibilhin ko siya sa bawat singko na ipamamana mo sa akin! Tingnan ko lang kung di ka mangisay sa libingan mo!”

• “Gustuhin ko man, di ko magagawa. Sa puso nanggagaling ang pagpapatawad. Wala akong puso, nagmana ako sa’yo!”

8. Speaking of ahas, why did they always choose to have sex in the talahiban? It looked really scary. And mukhang makati.

9. Adela’s transformation from naive doormat to a feisty and heartless heredera. Wow! I wanted to stand up and cheer when she entered that church with her luscious curls wearing the bitchiest red dress with a matching belt bag. And that scene where she threw the hundred peso bills and David was temporarily stunned by all the flying cash? Iconic.

10. Was it just a coincidence that ugly Adela wore pearls while beautiful Adela wore diamonds? Shine bright like a real Diamond Star indeed.

Rating: ★★★★★

MINSAN, MINAHAL KITA (Olivia Lamasan, 2000)

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We had the right love at the wrong time ang peg.

Sa huli, magkakatabi ang mga kotse nila dahil sa sobrang traffic.

Magkakatitigan. Susunod ang matatamis na ngitian. Lalong lalakas ang chorus ng Somewhere Down the Road habang hindi gumagalaw ang mga sasakyan nila at lalong magiging sanhi ng traffic sa Parañaque.

Tatak Lamasan. #iconic

Rating: ★★★★☆

ESKAPO (Chito Roño, 1995)

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Our own version of (a real-life!) Prison Break. This is the part of history that I choose to believe in and no amount of revisionism can make me think otherwise.

You know you’re watching an effective thriller when you still get excited over something that 1) you’ve seen several times already, and 2) you very well know how the film will end.

My favorite moment though would have to be that brilliant aerial shot of Teresa Loyzaga as the Imelda Marcos tossing petals at the coffin of the late Don Eugenio Lopez. Pasabog as always in a scene rich with symbolism.

Rating: ★★★★☆

UNEXPECTEDLY YOURS (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2017)

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I think I just had a Classic Pare Titos and Titas of Manila moment while watching this movie since I couldn’t help myself from twitterpating (kilig lang yan, inartehan ko) over such a cute couple. Nope, not talking about JoshLia (even if Joshua Garcia and Julia Barretto were also really charming here). I was of course referring to the Sharon Cuneta-Robin Padilla love team that still showcased such palpable chemistry twenty five years after Maging Sino Ka Man.

I previously mentioned that I liked this combo much better than the Sharon-Gabby and Sharon-Richard pairing because the very Pinoy langit-lupa theme (and all the conflicts that stemmed from this social class gap) always made for great dramedy. It was even put to good use here because it was an older people romance straight out of the Nancy Meyers universe.

This should have been the comeback vehicle of Ate Shawie since her performance here just felt more relaxed and natural compared to the one in Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha. She displayed great comedic timing, especially while verbally sparring with Robin (mega kilig yung sagutan nila ng “Adik!” and “Sa’yo!” waaah!). Her controlled emotions during her dramatic moments were even reminiscent of her grand slam performance in Madrasta. I really liked the scene where she was crying out of self-pity (“Matanda na ako…”) because her realizations were genuinely painful to watch.

I wish the movie focused more on their romance since the JoshLia story actually served as a distraction. It would have worked still without their love angle since the young ones were so believable as their blood relatives (Julia as Sharon’s daughter and Joshua as Robin’s nephew). Also, all the millennial discussion including a cringey FGD just felt off. It had just as much insight about this generation as any episode of Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X.

Speaking of Julia, I was really surprised at how much she had continuously improved in terms of acting (even after her good work in Love You to the Stars and Back). She had this lovely scene with Sharon where she was telling her why she didn’t want to end up just like her mother and she definitely held her own against the Megastar. The Claudine comparisons would be inevitable, but with the right projects, she should be able to step out of her aunt’s shadow soon.

In one scene, Julia was wearing a shirt that had the word “MIST” on the right shoulder and “AKES” on the left side. I thought, “Wow, cool! A gay shirt saying that she’s a mist!”. It took me a full twenty seconds to realize that it actually spelled “mistakes”. Bwiset! Chalk that up to another Titos and Titas of Manila moment.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

LOVE ME TOMORROW (Gino Santos, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Love Me Tomorrow:

1. Dawn Zulueta would always be one of the loveliest faces in Philippine showbiz (Fountain of Youth? Renew Placenta Soap? Tell us your secret!) so it was hard to stomach that her pairing with Piolo Pascual was considered a May-December love affair. Seriously, in what universe would they be seen in a mall and people would mistake him as her son? I even cringed a bit when he called her Tita because they looked practically the same age (no, the earring didn’t make him look a decade younger). If they really wanted to show the disparity, they should have gotten Inigo Pascual instead, but I guess believability wasn’t the movie’s strongest suit.

2. “Life as I knew it was over nung ma-stroke ang asawa ko after 15 years of marriage.” Huh? What kind of wife are you? What happened to the in sickness and in health vow? Naka-wheelchair lang ang asawa mo katapusan na ng mundo? Since she was married to a much older man (Freddie Webb, or at least his Madame Tussaud’s version), I guess that solidified the perception that she was just after his money.

3. Do vets really administer rabies shots to humans? If I were bitten by a dog in Alabang Town Center, I would have rushed myself to RITM instead so I was really curious.

4. The Animals and #Y perfectly captured the fun and filth of the younger generation’s lifestyle and this was no exception. That scene where Dawn ended up wasted after a night of clubbing was reminiscent of Danny Boyle’s camerawork in Trainspotting (I really thought there would be projectile vomiting involved but I guess there was a specific clause in Dawn’s contract pertaining to cleanliness and hygiene).

5. MOMOTA = make out make out tapos awkward

DFML = da fuck makaimbento lang

6. Dawn made the most out of the terrible material thrown her way and I really enjoyed all the Titas of Manila bits (the occasional old women brunch, the joke involving Oriental Palace vs The Palace, her old person dance moves, the frequent Zumba references, etc.).

Still, I couldn’t understand why a smart designer like her would be the type to get lost in a beach in Laiya (how big was that resort?) or would prioritize pag-kerengkeng when she was supposed to launch her own line and fulfill her lifelong dream. No wonder her models had ill-fitting clothes on the runway.

7. Pet peeve in movies: People having a normal (slightly louder) conversation in clubs. Any party person would know that you could barely hear anything with the loud music and you could actually use this to make a move and whisper some nonsense while really close to your crush’s ear. (Everyone has tried that, right?)

8. Yes, Piolo had lots of topless scenes. (I get this question in every review so I might as well respond to it beforehand.)

Also, the sex scene between Piolo and Dawn was so tame (read: pa-ahrt) that it could very well have been the first one to be rated General Patronage.

9. Piolo was such an in-demand DJ that he only had one song (Love Me Tomorrow Tatlong Bibe Remix, of course!) in his setlist. Groan.

10. “Kailan pa naging mali na piliin ang maging masaya ka?” Gurl, siguro pag merong nasasaktang iba?

11. Who played Coleen Garcia’s sister? She looked and talked like she was born from and raised in a different household.

12. Continuity issue: Dawn called Piolo as babe while they were walking in Madrigal Business Park and then a few scenes after she was surprised when Piolo called her babe and she asked if that was their pet name. Huh?

13. Someone had what looked like a cold sore on the lower lip. Eew! Please tell me that was a pimple.

14. Kagulo ang last act. Why should we even care about these petty people with their petty problems? This movie should not have been two hours long.

15. As always, the failure of a love story was the fault of a successful career woman. Ugh.

Anyway, that scene on the bench where Dawn was giving motherly advice to Piolo reminded me of another May-December Pinoy movie, Jerry Lopez-Sineneng’s Soltera with Maricel Soriano, Diether Ocampo, and Claudine Barretto. It was much better, funnier, and it didn’t include a SunLife commercial.

16. Since this was by Star Cinema, the cameos in the end weren’t really surprising. Actually, it made the pairing even more dreadful since the people were obviously more kilig with Dawn and Richard Gomez. We demand a CharDawn movie!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆