CAREGIVER (Chito Roño, 2008)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Mabilis talaga ako maiyak kapag tungkol sa OFW ang pelikula. Napakalungkot kasi isipin lahat ng mga sakripisyo nila matupad lang ang pangarap na magandang buhay para sa pamilya. Yung alam mong titiisin ang lahat (discrimination abroad, homesickness, extra work hours, downgrade sa trabaho) para kumita ng Pounds.

Hindi na bago ang story ni Sarah (Sharon Cuneta), isang magaling na English teacher sa Pilipinas na mas piniling magtrabaho bilang caregiver sa London dahil: 1) “mas malaki ang Pounds kesa Dollars” at syempre lalo na sa Pesos, at 2) yun ang utos ng asawang si Teddy (John Estrada). Nagustuhan ko na malaman ang meaning nito sa status ng kababaihan (married professionals or otherwise) sa ating bansa.

In one scene, pinapanood ni Sarah ang kanyang nanay na pinapaliguan ang kanilang lola. Sinasabi ba nito na lubos na maalaga ang mga babae? O nasa culture nating mga Pinoy ang pagiging mapagmahal sa mga nakakatanda? Kaya ba tayo right fit sa pagiging caregiver? Tumatak sa akin ang masaklap na juxtaposition na hindi man lang niya maalagaan ang lola niya (na hindi siya kilala dahil sa dementia) pero ganun mismo ang job requirement niya sa patients na hindi niya kaano-ano. Ang sakit sa puso.

Mahusay si Sharon dito. Mas gusto ko talaga kapag restrained ang atake niya sa pag-iyak (in peak form nung Madrasta). Ramdam mo yung hiya nung pinagtawanan siya ng isang estudyante na she’ll “make punas punas the pwet of older people there”. At halos masuka na din ako nung kelangan na nga niya magpunas ng pwet.

Sayang kasi nawalan ng direction ang story at naging melodramatic nung naging demonyo bigla si Ted at nung nag-focus sa relationship ni Sarah at Mr. Morgan. Kasi kahit ang dami nang OFW movies (like Anak), may iba pang topics sana na tinutukan (like yung subplot ni Jhong Hilario’s doctor turned nurse na nauwi sa illegal termination) to further show the OFW experience.

At least sa huli na-realize ni Sarah na mas importante ang kanyang self-worth/self-love kesa sa gwapo niyang asawa. Yes, sana all.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

HINDI TAYO PWEDE (Joel Lamangan, 2020)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Hindi Tayo Pwede:

1. Minsan napapaisip na lang ako kung seryoso ang Viva Films kapag sinasabi nito sa start ng mga pelikula niya na “Proudly Presents”. Kasi nung natapos ko panoorin ang kababalaghan na ‘to, considering na attached ang mga pangalan ng Philippine Cinema luminaries like Direk Joel Lamangan and Sir Ricky Lee sa project, nagtaka talaga ako kung saang part sila proud.

Napakalayo nito from being a future classic tulad ng City After Dark at Maynila Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag na nakapaskil ang posters sa kwarto ni Gabby (Lovi Poe). Apparently as a frustrated director slash writer, may taste siya sa local films kaya rin kasama ang mga larawan ng The Flor Contemplacion Story at Himala. Gusto ko yung lantarang pagbubuhat ng Lamangan/Lee tandem ng sariling bangko (check n’yo na lang ang credits ng dalawang pelikula sa IMDB).

2. First scene pa lang ni Lovi lumabas na agad siya na naka-(Bench Body?) underwear kasi alam ng filmmakers kung ano ang totoong selling point ng gawa nila (eh diba nga naka-topless yung tatlong bida sa movie poster with a promised threesome?). Hindi naman nagpatalo sina Tony Labrusca (as the boyfriend Gabriel, yes Gabby din oha destiny!) at Marco Gumabao (as the lovesick ”Besh” Dennis, as in Roldan). Paiksian ng swimming shorts at palakihan ng bukol ang labanan every time merong requisite pool scene (syempre!) at beach scene (syempre!).

Ang lakas ng tawa ko nung ni-top ni Lovi si Tony dun sa sex scene nila set to their theme song Never Ever Say Goodbye by Nonoy Zuñiga. Why that song choice ba? Hindi naman sila couple in their 60’s. At diba popular funeral song na ‘to?

3. Sabagay apt din pala ang kanta kasi patay na si Gabriel dito. Yup, hindi lang nasobrahan ng Mena cream si Tony sa poster.

(Side note: Grabe makasira ng mood ang direction dito. Pano yung sex scene na sinabi ko biglang naputol bago pa umabot sa chorus kaya ako na lang ang kumanta kahit ibang eksena na.)

4. Bago ang story kung hindi mo napanood ang early 90’s film na Ghost with Demi Moore and the late Patrick Swayze. Garapalan ang reference kaya meron din Oda Mae Brown dito in the form of a manghuhula named Madam Concha (played by the Vangie Labalan). Kabog si Ateng Whoopi Goldberg!!

Ang difference lang talaga ay directly nahahawakan at nakakausap ni Gabby si Gabriel na hindi na kelangan pa sumanib kay Madam Concha. I guess wise decision na rin siya kasi ayaw ko naman ata ng love scene between Lovi and Ms. Vangieeeeee.

5. Feeling ko naubusan ng budget for the visual effects (o nakalimutan na tuluyan ng director ang premise) kasi obviously gumagalaw naman ang mga bagay na nadidikitan ni Gabriel (like yung upuan at door tassels pag-walk out niya sa cubicle ni Madam Concha). Nasayang lang yung pag-emote nung isang extra na “Ooh ang lamig naman dito malakas ba ang aircon?”.

6. Favorite line ko yung kay Phoemela Barranda as an ad agency executive: “Bakit ang cheesy ng presentation mo? Cheese ba ang produkto?” (Gahd! Nasaan ang creativity boss? Bakit hindi na lang pizza or mac and cheese or sana ginawa mo man lang cheese platter diba?)

Second favorite ko yung exchange na ito…

Gabby to Dennis’ new jowa: “Nasungkit mo ang best friend ko!”

Dennis (feeling hurt): “Ginawa mo naman akong santol.”

(Yes Marco, we objectify you as a santol. At bakit ba laging nagmamakaawa ang characters niya na mahalin siya eh sure naman ako ang daming nakapila diyan?)

7. Bakit yung laging palabas sa sinehan nila eh mga lumang movies like Ate Shawie’s Ikaw? Naguluhan tuloy ako kung set ba sa 90’s ang pelikula. Kaya ba naka-tangga cut na bikini si Lovi nung umahon sa beach? Kaso modern naman ang surroundings like yung sa Citadines? Or may time jumps ba ako na na-miss kakatawa sa upuan ko?

And speaking of cinema, sana walang gumaya kay Gabriel who lacked basic theater etiquette at nag-propose talaga sa gitna ng isang screening. Kapag merong gumawa ng stunt na ito habang nanunuod ako ng A Quiet Place 2, sinasabi ko talaga merong bride na ikakasal with a missing ring finger.

8. “Dun lang namin na-realize na nakikita at nahahawakan ko lang si Gabriel dahil sa pagmamahal ko sa kanya. At ngayon na unti-unti nawawala ang pagmamahal na yun, unti-unti na din sya nawawala.”

Buti may explanation sa dulo kasi akala ko talaga nasobrahan lang ng Tide yung white shirt ni Gabriel.

9. Ipinakita sa ending na buntis si Gabby habang nakatayo sa puntod ni Gabriel. Kay Dennis ba yun or ghost baby nila ni Gabriel? I need answers pero ayoko na magbayad for a sequel huhu!

10. According to Sir Ricky (na uulitin ko, siya ang sumulat nito kaloka!), kalahati daw ng populasyon sa Pilipinas ay hindi pa nakaka-move on. Jusko kaya pala naghihirap ang bansa natin kasi puro lovelife ang inaatupag. Kaya din siguro hindi nauubos ang hugot films tulad nito.

Sabi nga ni Gabriel, “This is exactly why I hate Tagalog movies. Ang babaduy!”. Uhm… Let’s just say na nung nagtulak ng basurahan ang maintenance pagkatapos ng screening, akala ko kokolektahin din niya ang pelikulang ‘to.

P.S. Sorry walang threesome. Masakit talaga na pinagtagpo sina Tony at Marco pero di tinadhana.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

THE BODYGUARD (Mick Jackson, 1992)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Magagalit sa ‘kin nanay ko kasi favorite niya ‘to. Pero this recent rewatch confirmed na it really failed as a romance flick kasi walang spark at all between Rachel (Whitney Houston) and Frank (Kevin Costner). Mas may chemistry pa si Tita Whitney sa microphone niya kaya masaya yung musical numbers.

So supposedly nanuod lang sila ng Yojimbo at nag-role play ng samurai eh mahal na nila agad isa’t-isa. Ito siguro yung movie equivalent ng Cheeze Whiz. (Ano nga ba yung Pinoy film na sobrang copy nito including yung pagbuhat after the assassination attempt? Parang kay Ate Shawie siya pero di ko maalala.)

Sayang kasi interesting pa naman si Rachel bilang Oscar winner (Best Actress talaga? Hahaha!!) at huge diva na mahilig mag-ukay ukay. Tapos dun sa obsessed fan plot eh naalala ko yung rabid na KathNiel na nag-threaten na sasabuyan ng acid sa mukha sina Liza at Nadine sa ABS CBN Ball.

Still one of the best film soundtracks, though. Syempre meron ang nanay ko na cassette tape na pinapatugtog niya every single day kaya memorized ko lahat ng kanta sa side A from I Will Always Love You to Jesus Loves Me. Eh di ending ako ang naging Queen of the Night. Chz.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

ANG PAMILYANG HINDI LUMULUHA (Mes de Guzman, 2017)

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One long and badly-edited sitcom. It would have been more bearable if most of the jokes (in the vein of Dolphy and Babalu circa 90s) were actually funny, except that they weren’t. I had more laughs watching The Lilian Velez Story.

Sharon Cuneta’s dramatic breakdown scene during the latter part of the movie reeked so much of desperation. She hopelessly attempted to out-uhog Viola Davis for that coveted Balanghai.

Even worse, people would most likely remember Moi Bien’s performance.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 9, 2017.)

HENERAL LUNA (Jerrold Tarog, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Heneral Luna:

1. The disclaimer at the start of the movie was scary for two reasons: a) for a biopic slash historical epic, we don’t know the extent of cinematic license used in the movie, and b) indeed, a fictionalized history (or work of fiction inspired by true events?) doesn’t take away the fact that this is still a clear representation of the truth (both past and present).

2. Jerrold Tarog has always been a competent filmmaker. He’s the kind of director that can make a Shake Rattle and Roll episode end up better than most of the full-length Pinoy movies shown that year. (Also, watch Senior Year!!)

3. I think everyone will agree that the movie had one of the best ensemble casts in any Pinoy film. I loved how the receding hairline of Epy Quizon was put to good use as Apolinario Mabini. In terms of acting, Mon Confiado (as Emilio Aguinaldo) and Nonie Buencamino (as Felipe Buencamino) were clear standouts. I hope none of them show up in Felix Manalo or I will start getting confused.

4. One of the best lines in the movie:

“Para kayong mga birhen na naniniwala sa pag-ibig ng isang puta!!”

I wonder when I can deliver this line in real life.

5. I particularly liked the Manifest Destiny scene because it stirred up emotions that shouldn’t even be there in this day and age (I so hated the American soldiers that I almost swore off eating burgers.)

6. A lot of reviews have pointed out that the film is a farce. I guess I’m being a purist then because I still want my History lessons all serious and dramatic. The rich content of Philippine History alone will never be boring. I guess I just didn’t understand all the funny quips despite the current situations (hey, it’s just war, people are just getting blown up, let’s all be like Cesar Montano and throw a witty one-liner or two!).

7. I was happy to see Antonio Luna portrayed as a deeply flawed character (never liked biopics that glorify their subject matter) but did it go too far? I could barely remember him in History class and now all I could think of was that he’s no different from Anger in Inside Out. Just about everything seemed to irk him to no end and everyone around him just looked completely dumb or incompetent. John Arcilla was fine in the lead role but I kept imagining him invoking the spirit of Captain Jack Sparrow in every scene. I hate to say it but it bordered closely on caricature.

8. Did we really need that gratuitous head shot for shock value? If they were depicting the reality of war then why was Luna shown as someone invincible? He just kept saying his lines while walking close to enemy lines without getting hit. Maybe he had an agimat that we didn’t know of? (Was it the magical coin pouch that saved his life?)

9. In one scene, Luna was trying to talk to an American soldier and ended up saying something like, “Hulihin nyo na yan. Naubusan na ko ng Ingles” all for comic relief. I was surprised he didn’t just say “Nosebleed!”. Why didn’t they really get Montano for this role?

10. I remember one of my History teachers saying that when Rizal got shot, he tried to face the firing squad as a sign of pride and dignity. Is this correct? (I’m only asking because the Rizal here just waited to be shot at the back. Wait, that didn’t sound right.)

11. In another scene, Luna was strumming his guitar and he was shown to have perfectly polished nails. With this, I will always remember that even in trying times, one should never forget to have a manicure.

12. Why is Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata the song of choice for war flashback scenes? I first heard this used in Madrasta with Sharon Cuneta’s grandfather recalling the war with Japanese soldiers. (Ooh, I need to watch that again.)

13. Old people love hitting tables for emphasis. (If you’ve done that recently…)

14. The scene that I abhorred the most would have to be the one where Luna was killed and the movie turned into a comical Carlo J. Caparas movie. Luna was betrayed and stabbed and shot several times (and had a hole carved in his right eye) by Filipino soldiers and I should have been appalled and angry by the betrayal but I was instead preventing a huge fart from trying not to laugh. Sure, History books would say that he was stabbed 30 or so times and that he continued to flinch after his death but I’m sure it didn’t say that he was Fernando Poe, Jr. (or a horror movie villain that just won’t die).

15. I remember Aguinaldo getting a bad rap for apparently ordering the assassination of Andres Bonifacio. He was portrayed the exact same way here with fingers directly pointed at him for giving the directive on the ambush of Luna. I never knew our first President was such a villain. Has anything changed since then?

16. The burning flag scene in its entirety covered everything that the movie was trying to say in two hours. Such powerful imagery.

17. There’s a mid-credits sequence!! In the same way that Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo had a Heneral Luna teaser, this one hinted at a Gregorio del Pilar spin-off (meaning more Paulo Avelino!). Move over Marvel, we have our Pinoy superheroes!

18. How many times did I mention History?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published September 16, 2015.)

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: ★★★★☆

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: ★★★☆☆

LAST NIGHT (Joyce Bernal, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Last Night:

1. Let me begin with an erratum on a glaring boo boo that I made when I posted my notes on Love You to the Stars and Back. I incorrectly identified the character of Julia Barretto as Carmina Salvador since I actually saw Last Night’s trailer prior to that movie.

Whether it was cinema fatigue or my inner cinephile that went bonkers upon hearing that film reference (that was the same name of Dawn Zulueta’s character in Hihintayin Kita sa Langit), I would like to apologize for the confusion that it caused especially to all the JoshLia fans that lost sleep over that inaccurate trivia.

2. We first see the real Carmina Salvador (Toni Gonzaga) dangling from a billboard on the side of the Jones Bridge after a botched suicide attempt. Her cry for help was noticed by Mark Peters (Piolo Pascual), who was also on a suicide mission at the said bridge. (Side note: Is this really a popular destination for depressed people in the Binondo/Ermita area? I’m really curious to know how many suicide cases have happened here within the last decade. Google wasn’t really helpful.) Anyway, they ended up helping one another and in the process also fell madly in love with each other. The end.

Well, not really. Of course there had to be a big twist because the screenplay seemed to have been built around that gimmick. In a reveal that would make M. Night Shyamalan curl up in a fetal position, Carmina actually turned out to be a ghost (she died in 1973 during Martial Law; naks, relevant!) that only appeared before Mark. Yes, he could see dead people (well, one dead person in the beginning and a few more towards the end of the movie). Eek!

3. I really wish the movie didn’t rely too much on the (obvious) twist so that it didn’t have to spend its final 30 minutes explaining everything (in washed-out flashbacks!) and feeling smart on how much it was able to fool the audience.

Aside from The Sixth Sense, most of the scenes that had Mark interacting with Carmina reminded me a lot of the “I Love You, Moo Moo” episode of the 90’s movie Tatlong Mukha ng Pag-ibig. My favorite scene there was when Tonton Gutierrez carried the ghost of his dead wife (played by Sharon Cuneta) inside their honeymoon suite while the caretaker (Leroy Salvador) watched in horror as his crazy amo flirted with an imaginary entity. I actually wondered if that straightforward format that wasn’t reliant on a twist would have made the story here much better (and less cornier).

Also, I’d actually need help in remembering another Hollywood/foreign movie about a living human being that communicated and fell in love with the spirit of a deceased person (something like Just Like Heaven, but not really). I wouldn’t want to be up for the next few nights.

4. Thirteen Reasons Why received a lot of flak for apparently romanticizing suicide and I kinda understood that perspective when I watched Mark and Carmina play cutesy with a blow dryer while they were inside a tub. Or when they fantasized on placing an aircon and a mattress on their backs before diving in a pool. Or when Carmina suggested “maligo sa dinuguan at magpakain sa shark” (huh?).

This made the shift in tone during the latter part of the movie even more jarring when it suddenly turned pro-life and started spreading a message of optimism and hope. All that was lacking in that final bubblegum bridge sequence was a dancing unicorn.

5. I was a huge fan of the Toni-Piolo pairing in Starting Over Again so I was a bit surprised at how much I was turned off by their performances here. Toni had her quirkiness turned up to its maximum level and she kept shouting her lines like she was still hosting Pinoy Big Brother (“Hello Philippines! Hello world!!”).

Piolo fared much better (as he was required to go topless yet again and shamelessly showed off his abs twice!), but he spent most of his scenes brooding and acting really stuck-up. Sayang, because I really missed this fun partnership.

6. At least the technical aspects were really commendable. Before Cathy Garcia-Molina, I think Joyce Bernal was the queen of rom-coms and she really tried to make the most out of the weak story here.

The movie also looked really good, very much like a glossy maindie. I also loved the song choices (except for one that sounded like it had Piolo singing).

7. I couldn’t get over the fact that Toni was the twin of Joey Marquez. And that Joey was named Ricardo Reyes. Yes, Ricky Reyes! Bwahahahaha!

Also, Carmina (whose real name’s Jennifer, btw) was actually a smart entrepreneur and influencer for bringing her new living friends to their family restaurant every single time. Shouldn’t it have been time for her to start a Twitter or Instagram account, though?

8. Burning questions:

• Why did an old soul like Carmina sound very much like a millennial? Also, why did she keep acting like she didn’t know that she was already dead? Diba audience lang naman may hindi alam?

• If she really wanted to prevent Mark from committing suicide, why did they spend most of their time trying to figure out how to die together? Did she only realize that after she fell in love with him?

• Did they play Bloody Crayons in one scene as a cross-promotion for Star Cinema movies?

• If nobody could see her, why didn’t anyone (except for the friend of dying lola) even ask who Mark was talking to? More chismis, more fun lang?

• Why did she kill herself after just seeing blood on the side of Jones Bridge (sure, her boyfriend was supposed to be there, so she automatically assumed that the blood was his)? Why, gurl, why?

• Paano sila maghihintayan sa langit if she’s stuck in limbo?

• If Carmina killed herself during Martial Law, why was her brother played by Patrick Sugui (shouldn’t he be like 40ish) and her mother was the still youthful Marina Benipayo? Were they also ghosts? Then why couldn’t they all see each other? Or was Patrick supposed to be the young Joey Marquez? Help!!

• Bakit kapag si Piolo ang nagsasabi ng “nangulangot” parang classy and sexy pa rin? Huhuhu!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

ANG PAGSANIB KAY LEAH DELA CRUZ (Katski Flores, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ang Pagsanib Kay Leah dela Cruz:

1. Sarah Lahbati, in an effort to act like a tough and cool policewoman, decided to strip down all possible emotions from her character and spoke in a weird monotone with a slight gruff reminiscent of Sharon Cuneta’s performance as the tomboy-ish jeepney driver Jack in the 80’s cult classic Jack & Jill. She had an air of “I may look and sound like a bad-ass lesbian, but I’m still straight as an arrow deep inside.” Never forget to check the label, Mommies!

(Not like anybody would actually think that she bats for the other team since she sashays in every scene wearing her butt-hugging jeans and high-heeled boots like a smoldering beauty queen doing her farewell walk.)

2. Although the story about a satanic cult and its link to the possession of Emily Rose, er, Leah dela Cruz left much to be desired, the movie made up for it through some gorgeous visuals.

I really liked the opening scene with the abandoned road and the phantom kids running after the car and how they all tied up to that chilling image of dead children forming a circle with demonic symbols.

3. Why do a lot of Pinoy horror movies happen during Holy Week (especially Good Friday) and end up with catharsis and redemption on Easter Sunday?

Sana next time Valentine’s Day naman para maiba. Tapos walang catharsis. Scary diba?

4. When Yaya Rosario referred to Leah as “ba-it”, I was reminded of my grandmother calling the rats in our house the same way before poisoning them with cheese-crusted Dora. Apparently, being nice to rats and using pet names would prevent them from nibbling on your clothes and you could nicely drive them out like you’re the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Oh wait, didn’t that story involve a lot of missing children as well?

5. In one scene, an intubated Yaya Rosario kept talking wildly to non-lesbian policewoman about all the secrets that she knew. I think I had seen enough Grey’s Anatomy episodes to know that this wasn’t possible since that tube would actually go through her trachea (friends from the medical field, please correct me as needed).

Unless of course that was a dental suction whose main purpose was to suck the saliva of poor Yaya.

6. My favorite part was the Lights Out scene that tried to subvert the genre with the heroine fearlessly chasing after the lady ghost instead. Talk about a great diva showdown.

7. Shy Carlos as the possessed Leah surely had a lot of fun in the role. She was really good without going overboard and I probably would have been more impressed with her performance if I hadn’t seen her do the exact same thing in Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin. Still, she was one of the few reasons to watch this.

8. Every time Jim Paredes as a priest (!!) would mention the word demonyo, I actually expected him to go on another endless anti-Duterte tirade.

Also, that bit with Angelina Kanapi as a nun on the run sounded a bit like Sister Act, no?

9. “Ang pagtatalik ay isang uri ng pagdarasal at bata ka pa lang dapat marunong ka na magdasal.” Creepy and icky. It needed more of this and less of the horror movie clichés.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

SANA’Y WALA NANG WAKAS (Leroy Salvador, 1986)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas:

1. Even before the classic Pinoy LGBTQ film Do Re Mi manifested the power of female camaraderie through musical numbers, there was this movie in the late 80’s (probably inspired by the Broadway musical Dreamgirls) that showcased the value of friendship.

If it weren’t obvious enough, the girl group composed of Bianca Eleazar (Sharon Cuneta), Monique Verzosa (Cherie Gil), and Michelle Williams, er, Camille Gonzaga (Dina Bonnevie) was actually named “Friends” and their go-to song was “That’s What Friends Are For” (sung during the opening scene while they wore shiny, silky costumes with gigantic ribbons on the chest area, probably borrowed from the Boyoyong clowns).

Also, Sharon sported a female mullet. Let that sink in.

2. There was one incredibly long montage (worth one full song, I think) where Bianca and Teddy (Tonton Gutierrez, terrible in an Aljur Abrenica way) toured Luzon and it could have been used as a tourist ad for the Philippines (Have some buko juice in Tagaytay! Jet ski in Taal Lake!).

At one point, Teddy dove head first in a shallow pond to get a lotus flower. I thought he was trying to catch a frog, but then it wouldn’t match with Bianca’s ever-changing ribbons on her ponytail.

Naudlot pa ang first kiss nila nang biglang dumating ang order nila na…Pepsi! (We would always complain about product placements in today’s films, but apparently it had been shamelessly done even before. This one also had blatant shills for Master Sardines and Silver Swan Soy Sauce.)

3. It was sad to see the late Dindo Fernando again here, especially since he was one of the finest actors in local cinema that was gone too soon. As Bianca’s father slash music composer, he brought a lot of depth in his character who was prone to making silly decisions.

Upon learning that he had terminal cancer, he did some soul-searching by walking the entire stretch of Manila Bay. He also abandoned his family because he didn’t want to be a pabigat for them, but ultimately returned home for one last deathbed duet. (By the way, this scene was so effective that I was a blubbering mess when it ended. Galing din ni Ate Shawie dito.)

4. As expected, jealousy and fame were the reasons for the group’s eventual break-up. I would have guessed that it was actually Dina’s singing voice because she just sounded awful (refer to Barbie Forteza’s viral video).

There was a scene where Camille was singing drunk and another one where she was warbling while sobbing uncontrollably and she didn’t sound any different from her supposedly better days. She more than made up for it in acting though because I really loved the scene where she started throwing beer bottles at her gay BFF Manny Castaneda.

5. Sample dialogue…

• Teddy being defiant to his overbearing father: “Pigain mo man ako, di mo mapipiga ang musika sa buhay ko!” (Nux!!)

• Teddy’s matapobre father to Bianca: “Magkano ang kelangan mo para layuan ang anak ko?”

Bianca with matching flaring nostrils: “Magkano ang kaya nyong ibayad? Bilhin nyo sya ng pera nyo. Bibilhin ko sya ng pag ibig ko!” (Applause! Standing ovation!!)

6. Burning questions:

• If Bianca was so famous that she was being mobbed by fans, why did she take a cab during her walk-out scene?

• How did Bianca and Monique become huge recording stars if most of their songs were remakes? Greatest Love of All vs Through the Fire? (Sabagay, diamond artist si Nina.)

• What happened to breach of contract? How could Monique miss the farewell concert of the group and get away with it? And did Bianca really have to sing Part-Time Lover (with matching luha) after seeing Camille and Teddy kiss?

• Hindi pa ba uso ang aircon noon? Bakit ang nasa loob ng dressing room nila ay isang malaking electric fan?

7. It was so funny how all the conflicts were magically resolved during the final musical number of Bianca. In this scene, the song composed by her dearly-departed dad won the top prize in a music festival that suddenly turned into her concert, complete with surprise appearances by Monique and Camille.

Friendship was restored, a marriage proposal was done, and Manny Castaneda remained a faithful alalay.

Never, ever question the power of a Willy Cruz song.

Rating: ★★★☆☆