THE BEST OF PINOY CINEMA 2019

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1. RICKY DAVAO (F#*@bois)
2. SOLIMAN CRUZ (Iska)
3. VANCE LARENA (Dead Kids)
4. JC SANTOS (Miracle in Cell No. 7)
5. JOEM BASCON (Write About Love)
6. JOHN ARCILLA (Miracle in Cell No. 7)

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1. TUESDAY VARGAS (LSS)
2. ANNA LUNA (Tayo sa Huling Buwan ng Taon)
3. JACLYN JOSE (Circa)
4. IANA BERNARDEZ (Metamorphosis)
5. ELORA ESPAÑO (Kalel, 15)
6. MERYLL SORIANO (Culion)

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1. ELIJAH CANLAS (Kalel, 15)
2. LOUISE ABUEL (Edward)
3. JANSEN MAGPUSAO (John Denver Trending)
4. CARLO AQUINO (Isa Pa, With Feelings)
5. GIO GAHOL (Sila Sila)
6. ROCCO NACINO (Write About Love)

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1. RUBY RUIZ (Iska)
2. MERYLL SORIANO (John Denver Trending)
3. JUDY ANN SANTOS (Mindanao)
4. ANGIE FERRO (Lola Igna)
5. SARAH GERONIMO (Unforgettable)
6. LIZA SOBERANO (Alone/Together)

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1. HEIST SCHOOL (Julius Renomeron, Jr.)
2. ANG GASGAS NA PLAKA NI LOLO BERT (Janina Gacosta, Cheska Marfori)
3. SA AMONG AGWAT (Don Senoc)
4. THE SLUMS (Jan Andrei Cobey)

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Written by: JUN LANA, KEAVY EUNICE VICENTE, ASH MALANUM
Directed by: JUN LANA, PERCI INTALAN

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Written by: CRISANTO AQUINO, JANYX REGALO
Directed by: CRISANTO AQUINO

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Written by: JADE CASTRO, SIEGE LEDESMA
Directed by: JADE CASTRO

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Written by: WANGGO GALLAGA, KOOKAI LABAYEN, DWEIN BALTAZAR
Directed by: ANDOY RANAY

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Written and directed by: ADOLF ALIX, JR.

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Written by: JEN CHUAUNSU, KOOKAI LABAYEN
Directed by: PRIME CRUZ

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Written by: THOP NAZARENO, JOHN PAUL BEDIA
Directed by: THOP NAZARENO

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Written and directed by: JUN LANA

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Written and directed by: ARDEN ROD CONDEZ

MABUHAY ANG PELIKULANG PILIPINO!!

 

ISKA (Theodore Boborol, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Gusto ko talaga mahalin ang pelikulang ito nang buong-buo dahil sa powerful first scene niya kung saan si Aling Iska (ang napakahusay na si Ruby Ruiz) ay matiyagang binibihisan ang kanyang apo na special needs kid. Ang mga katulad niya na magulang/lola/guardian ang best people in the whole wide world.

Ang ganda nung umiikot lang ang kuwento sa buhay nilang maglola at sa bwiset na lolo (played to demonic perfection by Soliman Cruz, na ultimo pagkamot ng bayag eh nakakairita). Photocopy-photocopy sa UP, laba-laba with Zonrox, linis-linis ng ibang bahay as sideline. Sadyang napakahirap maging mahirap.

(Side note: Ang ganda ng sound design niya na bumagay sa top-notch surround sound system ng Evia Cinema. Naririnig ko ang lahat ng ingay sa bawat sulok ng sinehan na parang nasa gitna mismo ng Krus na Ligas.)

Kaso kasabay ng pagtaas ng kanyang blood pressure ang paggamit ng shaky cam at tuluyang pagkalat ng istorya at pagkalito sa nais niyang iparating. Kalaunan hindi ko alam kung maaawa ako sa kanya o matatawa sa bangayan nilang mag-asawa.

May subplot tungkol sa pakialamerang Martina Tulfo. May eksena ng mga aktibistang estudyante na di ko alam ano ang ipinaglalaban. Tapos biglang may staredown sina Aling Iska at Romina Mondragon na hindi totoong dragon kasi biglang umurong para ikadena si Cazzie. Iiyak na ba ako o maiiyak kakatawa?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

1ST KO SI 3RD (Real Florido, 2014)

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It’d be easy to nitpick and question some choices made in Real Florido’s 1st Ko Si 3rd but in the end, it was so easy to fall in love with.

Beneath all the lighthearted fare and funny antics was a deep sadness because of choices in life and love that needed to be made.

Nova Villa deserves to win Best Actress (New Breed) for her amazing performance, perfectly balancing the humor and pain of her character. A lot of films this year had characters madly laughing while in pain. Villa had a similar scene but it was effectively quiet. Brilliant!!

Dante Rivero and Ruby Ruiz were so good as well in their respective roles. Rivero had the audience rooting for him in the MH role.

While the crowd was audibly cheering until the very end, I was bawling my eyes out. Very Bridges of Madison County feels.

I thought Sundalong Kanin had the Audience Choice in the bag. It’ll face some tough competition with 1st Ko Si 3rd, an obvious crowd pleaser.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published August 6, 2014.)

CineFilipino Short Films – Set A (2016)

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Shorts A had a really fine line-up that started with the great OKTOPUS by JP Habac. It was a bittersweet take on growing old filled with old people beliefs, superstitions, and ruminations on life. It starred an excellent cast of local veteran character actresses (Vangie Labalan, Ruby Ruiz, Flora Gasser) that in the end left a powerful dare (“Minsan lang po kayo matanda”).

KUNG ANG ULAN AY GAWA SA TSOKOLATE by Galileo Sioco Te and Prime Cruz was a refreshing take on a futuristic world where memories were sold and companies created a new breed of domestic helpers and caregivers. The mother-daughter bond established at the start was so strong (with great performances from its leads) that it made the big reveal even more heartbreaking. I wish they were able to fix the blatant dubbing concerns, otherwise this was a really great effort. (And I just could not stop singing that song!)

With Dayang Asu and now DIGPAN NING ALTI, Bor Ocampo has clearly established a specialty on the dog-eat-dog theme. Except for the (intentional?) non-matching perspectives, it was a well-shot, gritty film that would make you want to see what came after the prologue. I especially loved the scene where the camera was possibly mounted on a bike going downhill (signaling the current state of its characters’ lives).

John Rhys Guarina’s KATOK opened with a powerful image: that of a young boy tied and blindfolded in a cramped back of a van. It was later revealed that he was part of a group begging for money and his sad life was filled with the constant knocks on windows of both vehicle owners and his syndicate’s owner. It was a short that clearly delivered its message.

My favorite short film of the festival was easily SAANMAN NGUNIT DITO by Cheska Salangsang. It was a heartbreaking story about a childless couple doing a constant trek and their conversations revealed their sadness, disappointments (“Masama ba tayong tao?”), and a glimmer of hope. I would have personally wanted it to end without the voiceover and just the chilling final shot that was open to interpretation, but it was an excellent short nonetheless.

LUNA by Rae Red was a sad tale of a girl already trying to fit in and be accepted. And then she got her period and her gender identity struggle was fully revealed. Interesting for the most part, but I would have wanted to see (and feel) more.

Ratings:

OKTOPUS (JP Habac) – ★★★★★
KUNG ANG ULAN AY GAWA SA TSOKOLATE (Galileo Sioco Te and Prime Reyes) – ★★★★☆
DIGPAN NING ALTI (Bor Ocampo) – ★★★★☆
KATOK (John Rhys Guarina) – ★★★★☆
SAANMAN NGUNIT DITO (Cheska Salangsang) – ★★★★★
LUNA (Rae Red) – ★★★☆☆