MOVIE REVIEW: BLISS (Jerrold Tarog, 2017)

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What the eff did I just watch?!

I’m not sure if it was the brutal similarity to the disturbing relationship of Sarah and Mommy Divine or the blatant homage to one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations, but I really liked this messed up film.

Iza Calzado was excellent as always and the entire ensemble cast that included pure a-hole TJ Trinidad, the hilariously pretentious director Audie Gemora and the divine (wink, wink) Shamaine Buencamino was great as well. The standout though was Adrienne Vergara whose mere laugh made me giggle like crazy in my seat.

P.S. Don’t expect a traditional horror movie, especially since real life nowadays is proving to be so much scarier.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published May 10, 2017.)

MOVIE REVIEW: MY LETTERS TO HAPPY (Pertee Briñas, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

‪Maganda yung intent ng film to portray characters with serious mental health concerns pero medyo na-romanticize ang problem to the point of being cutesy love-is-the-cure ala Last Night. I wanted to see sana the darker side of bipolar disorder and depression and how they affected adult relationships, but the movie barely scratched the surface.‬

‪Sayang kasi the two leads (Glaiza de Castro and TJ Trinidad) were competent enough to take the issue further and tackle it with more depth.‬

‪I also wasn’t a fan of that shaky cam style (chosen to reflect the characters’ troubled lives and psyches?). Ang sakit sa ulo huhu.‬

‪The sublime Shamaine Buencamino showed up in one powerful scene, summed up the entire experience, and delivered the feels that I was looking for. When she mentioned how much her condition was affecting her mother and that she knew she had to get better, I really felt that.

Medyo bad taste lang ang ending for me. A troubled girl’s mental health issues was used for a man’s self-discovery? Tapos wala na follow through kay Happy? Yikes!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

YEAR-END MOVIE REVIEW: THE BEST OF PINOY CINEMA 2017

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TOP 9 FEATURE LENGTH FILMS:

#9

LOVE YOU TO THE STARS AND BACK

Written and directed by: Antoinette Jadaone

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#8

HAUNTED: A LAST VISIT TO THE RED HOUSE

Written and directed by: Phyllis Grande

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#7

ALL OF YOU

Written by: Carl Chavez, Mae Chua, and Dan Villegas
Directed by: Dan Villegas

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#6

ANG LARAWAN

Written by: Rolando Tinio
Directed by: Loy Arcenas

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#5

BLISS

Written and directed by: Jerrold Tarog

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#4

PAKI

Written and directed by: Giancarlo Abrahan

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#3

RESPETO

Written by: Njel de Mesa and Treb Monteras II
Directed by: Treb Monteras II

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#2

CHANGING PARTNERS

Written by: Lilit Reyes and Vincent de Jesus
Directed by: Dan Villegas

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#1

KIKO BOKSINGERO

Written by: Denise O’Hara, Ash Malanum, Heber O’Hara, Emmanuel Espejo, Jr.
Directed by: Thop Nazareno

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2017 Scorecard:

★★★★★
CHANGING PARTNERS (Dan Villegas)
KIKO BOKSINGERO (Thop Nazareno)

★★★★☆
ALL OF YOU (Dan Villegas)
BLISS (Jerrold Tarog)
HAUNTED: A LAST VISIT TO THE RED HOUSE (Phyllis Grande)
ANG LARAWAN (Loy Arcenas)
LOVE YOU TO THE STARS AND BACK (Antoinette Jadaone)
PAKI (Giancarlo Abrahan)
RESPETO (Alberto Monteras II)
SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE (Carl Adrian Chavez)

★★★☆☆
100 TULA PARA KAY STELLA (Jason Paul Laxamana)
BAGAHE (Zig Dulay)
CAN WE STILL BE FRIENDS? (Prime Cruz)
DEADMA WALKING (Julius Alfonso)
FATIMA MARIE TORRES AND THE INVASION OF SPACE SHUTTLE PINAS 25 (Carlo Francisco Manatad)
HILOM (P.R. Patindol)
I’M DRUNK, I LOVE YOU. (JP Habac)
KITA KITA (Sigrid Andrea Bernardo)
KRISTO (HF Yambao)
LOLA LOLENG (Che Tagyamon)
MARIA (JP Habac)
NABUBULOK (Sonny Calvento)
SEVEN SUNDAYS (Cathy Garcia-Molina)
SI CHEDENG AT SI APPLE (Fatrick Tabada, Rae Red)
TU PUG IMATUY (Arbi Barbarona)
UNEXPECTEDLY YOURS (Cathy Garcia-Molina)

★★☆☆☆
12 (Dondon Santos)
ALIENS ATA (Glenn Barit)
BACONAUA (Joseph Israel Laban)
BAWOD (TM Malones)
BHOY INTSIK (Joel Lamangan)
CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE (Mae Cruz-Alviar)
DEAR OTHER SELF (Veronica Velasco)
THE DEBUTANTES (Prime Cruz)
FALLBACK (Jason Paul Laxamana)
FINALLY FOUND SOMEONE (Theodore Boborol)
THE GHOST BRIDE (Chito Roño)
ILAWOD (Dan Villegas)
ISLABODAN (Juan Carlo Tarobal)
JUANA AND THE SACRED SHORES (Antonne Santiago)
LAST NIGHT (Joyce Bernal)
LOVING IN TANDEM (Giselle Andres)
MANONG NG PA-ALING (E. del Mundo)
MY EX AND WHYS (Cathy Garcia-Molina)
NAKAW (Arvin Belarmino, Noel Escondo)
NAY (Kip Oebanda)
NERVOUS TRANSLATION (Shireen Seno)
NORTHERN LIGHTS: A JOURNEY TO LOVE (Dondon Santos)
ANG PAMILYANG HINDI LUMULUHA (Mes de Guzman)
ANG PAGSANIB KAY LEAH DELA CRUZ (Katski Flores)
SA GABING NANAHIMIK ANG MGA KULIGLIG (Iar Lionel Arondaing)
SIARGAO (Paul Soriano)
SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES (Raya Martin)
THROWBACK TODAY (Joseph Teoxon)

★☆☆☆☆
ACROSS THE CRESCENT MOON (Baby Nebrida)
AWOL (Enzo Williams)
BAR BOYS (Kip Oebanda)
BARBI D’ WONDER BEKI (Tony Reyes)
BES AND THE BESHIES (Joel Lamangan)
BEYOND THE BLOCK (Ricky Carranza)
BLOODY CRAYONS (Topel Lee)
BUNDOK BANAHAW, SACRED AND PROFANE (Dempster Samarista)
FANGIRL/FANBOY (Barry Gonzalez)
FOOLISH LOVE (Joel Lamangan)
ANG GURO KONG ‘DI MARUNONG MAGBASA (Perry Escaño)
HISTORIOGRAPHIKA ERRATA (Richard Somes)
I FOUND MY HEART IN SANTA FE (Bona Fajardo)
LADYFISH (Jason Orfalas)
MANG KEPWENG RETURNS (G.B. Sampedro)
NAKAUWI NA (Marvin Cabangunay, Jaynus Olaivar)
PWERA USOG (Jason Paul Laxamana)
REQUITED (Nerissa Picadizo)
SPIRIT OF THE GLASS 2: THE HAUNTED (Jose Javier Reyes)
THIS TIME I’LL BE SWEETER (Joel Lamangan)
TRIP UBUSAN: THE LOLAS VS ZOMBIES (Mark Reyes)
TRIPTIKO (Miguel Franco Michelena)
WOKE UP LIKE THIS (Joel Ferrer)

 

MOVIE REVIEW: PAKI (Giancarlo Abrahan, 2017)

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Dexter Doria would always be one of my childhood nightmares. She’d usually play the maldita stepmother, aunt, or neighbor on TV who was always ready to smack the living daylights out of a poor child that would go against her will (or break her precious Divisoria china). Her mere presence made me pee in my salawal countless times.

It was refreshing to see her front and center (and playing against type) as a lonely matriarch putting up a facade to hold her dysfunctional family together. Such a subtle and controlled performance that was a far cry from her previous hysterical roles. Lovely, truly lovely.

I really enjoyed the family dynamics here and I could easily identify with most of them (even the most mundane thing like the great Shamaine Buencamino performing her beauty regimen just felt so relatable and authentic). There were moments that bordered on Pinoy soap opera, but hello, guilty pleasure!

I might be one of the very few people that wasn’t impressed with Dagitab. It was technically beautiful, but the characters felt cold and distant (like they were trapped in a European indie romance). On the other hand, this movie provided the warmth of Pinoy characters that I’d usually fall for. It made me want to hug my own family immediately after watching. Sigh.

Rating: ★★★★☆

FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW: CINEMA ONE ORIGINALS 2017 SCORECARD

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Best Picture

1. CHANGING PARTNERS (Dan Villegas) – ★★★★★

2. PAKI (Giancarlo Abrahan) – ★★★★☆
3. HAUNTED: A LAST VISIT TO THE RED HOUSE (Phyllis Grande) – ★★★★☆

4. SI CHEDENG AT SI APPLE (Fatrick Tabada, Rae Red) – ★★★☆☆

5. NERVOUS TRANSLATION (Shireen Seno) – ★★☆☆☆
6. THROWBACK TODAY (Joseph Teoxon) – ★★☆☆☆
7. NAY (Kip Oebanda) – ★★☆☆☆

8. HISTORIOGRAPHIKA ERRATA (Richard Somes) – ★☆☆☆☆
9. BUNDOK BANAHAW, SACRED AND PROFANE (Dempster Samarista) – ★☆☆☆☆

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

1. JOJIT LORENZO (Changing Partners)
2. CARLO AQUINO (Throwback Today)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

1. DEXTER DORIA (Paki)
2. ELIZABETH OROPESA (Si Chedeng at si Apple)
3. AGOT ISIDRO (Changing Partners)
4. GLORIA DIAZ (Si Chedeng at si Apple)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

1. NOEL TRINIDAD (Paki)
2. SANDINO MARTIN (Changing Partners)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

1. SHAMAINE BUENCAMINO (Paki)
2. ANNA LUNA (Changing Partners)
3. EULA VALDEZ (Paki)
4. SYLVIA SANCHEZ (Nay)

MOVIE REVIEW: THE ACHY BREAKY HEARTS (Antoinette Jadaone, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Achy Breaky Hearts:

1. More than Valentine’s Day, I think the annual family reunion is the ultimate source of pain and trauma in any single person’s life. There will always be that one snooty aunt that will ask you the age-old question of “Kelan ka mag-aasawa?”, like your being single is a source of shame for the entire clan that they want to immediately sweep under the rug. On the flip side, you can view it positively that they only ask out of love because they don’t want you to end up as an old maid. A shameful old maid that they want to lock up in the basement, away from the prying eyes and loose lips of neighbors. Sigh.

2. The first few minutes of the movie smartly tackled this perceived dilemma of single women. Can one truly be alone and happy? Does Gabriela revoke your feminist card if you still long for someone that you can clutch onto while watching a horror movie in a cinema (especially one packed with lovers)? Is it wrong to admit the feeling of sadness even if you’re toasting for independence with your other single amigas?

3. Jodi Sta. Maria was perfect in the role of Chinggay because she was able to easily convey these mixed feelings, even when the movie started to default to a typical Star Cinema rom-com. The best scene involved an iyak-tawa moment of her dancing to Sasakyan after getting her heart broken yet again. She may drink a lot of Anlene, but she still gets weak in the knees when it comes to boy problems.

Also, although Chinggay was a successful jewelry store manager, she still seemed very submissive to the two men in her life. I wonder when Jodi will play an actual tough careerwoman that wouldn’t require her to call a man “Sir” every ten seconds.

4. I really abhor voiceovers that feel intrusive and basically explain the characters’ feelings and motives. Show us, don’t tell us. If an effective narrator is really needed, then please refer to Jane the Virgin.

5. I almost died from kilig in the scene where Ryan (Ian Veneracion) removed the ring from Chinggay’s finger using his mouth, but there were two thoughts that immediately countered that feeling: 1) my grandmother told me that you should never remove another person’s ring because you’ll end up becoming enemies, and 2) GERMS!!

6. I have always been #TeamTisoy ever since All You Need is Pag-ibig (they even tried to recreate that movie’s charming Bilanggo sing-along, but it just wasn’t as effective here). Besides, ex-boyfriend Frank (Richard Yap) looked like her father, was a bit malamya, and talked like a wooden spoon. He was no match to the vampiric looks of Ryan that made three women collapse from their seats when the camera zoomed in on his sleeping face. (Speaking of, I was happy to see that Ian sweats a lot like any human being. But then again his sweat might actually smell like Clinique Happy, dammit!)

7. Was that really a De Luxe room in Victoria Court? The faux gold and matching thunderstorms looked like a Premiere Off Beat room. No, I’m not a suki. Please don’t be judgmental.

8. Here are some more burning questions:

• Kelangan talaga meron mini-commercial ng Jolly Spaghetti where Chinggay can reminisce about her childhood? Or a Flanax scene that rivaled the Biogesic cameos in all the John Lloyd Cruz movies?

• Why didn’t she clean her bag? How long was that expired condom in there?

• Was Marion Aunor the only Star Records artist? (To be fair, most of her songs were really good.) Let me rephrase, was Marion Aunor the only good Star Records artist?

• Did you really expect us to believe that Ryan’s character knew the lyrics of Sasakyan by heart?

• Did they use the exact same locations (restaurants) in You’re My Boss and Everything About Her, among others?

• Why couldn’t Ryan take Chinggay to the real Paris? (Please don’t tell me that a Ducati owner like him was just being a cheapskate.)

9. Jodi looked really good, but she also needed some chapstick. There were also times when I wanted to feed her a cookie.

10. Special hugot quotes for my single friends:

• “Next time wag tayo tatanga-tanga sa investment.”

• “Ang love hindi para sa mga duwag o tamad. Ang love hinahanap at pinaglalaban.”

• “Kapag nagmamahal, nasasaktan. Pero kapag nasasaktan, ang mahalaga lumilipas.”

• “Ang pagmamahal hindi nawawala. Pero hindi porke’t mahal mo, para sa ‘yo.”

11. Shamaine Buencamino could play all of Star Cinema’s mother roles and I would never complain.

12. As expected, the ending was a cop-out. I would have been happy even if she didn’t choose between the two and the movie ended with a close-up of her single-blessedness face, but then it decided to tack on this hopeful ending negating every single platitude delivered by the voiceover.

Seriously, just because it didn’t introduce a twin or a doppelganger in the end didn’t mean that the movie was being brave. Teka lang muna wait, Star Cinema…

Rating: ★★★☆☆