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

IMG_2703

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: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: SING (Garth Jennings, Christophe Lourdelet, 2016)

img_0692

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sing:

1. When the Illumination logo showed up and the Minions started singing, I suddenly wished that they were part of the movie. What kind of animals (critters?) were they, anyway? At least it made me excited for their next outing. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be as bad as the last one.

2. I really liked the zippy opening montage introducing all the animals and their current dilemmas. Most of the characters here reminded me so much of Zootopia (like they existed in a parallel cinema universe). I wish their story arcs (young man going against his father’s dream for him, housewife wanting to fulfill her passion, teenage girl experiencing her first heartbreak, etc.) were more developed though, because they represented majority of us and our insecurities.

3. Buster Moon’s (Matthew McConaughey) love for theater at a young age reminded me of my early days watching Fernando Poe, Jr. (and the occasional Sharon Cuneta) films in Alabang Twin Cinema. My grandmother would always drag me to see Da King decimate an entire army of goons with just a .45 (without ever reloading bullets!).

Parents, it’s never too late to expose your kids to the arts.

4. Any American Idol fan would be able to relate to the entire audition process and competition rules (at one point, Buster dictated the songs that he wanted the contestants to perform; hello Simon Fuller controversy!). The selection of songs used here ranged from the classics (Hallelujah, also one of the most-performed songs on AI) to the current pop songs (Crazy in Love, Bad Romance, Firework, Stay With Me).

My favorite auditionees were the Asereje spiders and the Japanese little foxes girl group. They made me cheer from my seat out of nostalgia.

5. The movie occasionally made fun of one character with a disability, an elderly iguana with a glass eye. I laughed out really loud when the said eye fell out of its socket and bounced on the keyboard, resulting to an error on the actual cash prize for the competition. Would I go straight to hell for that?

6. Although the story was only fairly decent, most of the voice performances were really strong. Aside from McConaughey singing Call Me Maybe, it was a delight to hear Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Seth McFarlane and Taron Egerton belting their hearts out.

My favorite though was Tori Kelly as Meena, a shy elephant with stage fright. When she had her shining moment performing Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing, I was cheering along with the rest of the animal crowd.

7. The squid light show looked enchanting but weirdly enough also made me crave for Mesa’s Baby Squid Adobo in its own ink.

8. As a person with stage fright myself (I forgot a huge chunk of my speech during a Talumpatian in grade school and cried onstage), I would always remember what Buster said to Meena, “Don’t let fear stop you from doing the thing you love.” Noted and noted.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: WANTED: PERFECT MOTHER (Ike Jarlego, Jr., 1996)

15037102_10154675925288544_3926825276626216424_n

SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Wanted: Perfect Mother:

1. A strict father slash widower in need of someone to discipline his brats, er, kids hires a singing tutor slash nanny that teaches them the power of love, kindness, and respect through various song and dance production numbers.

Yes, this was The Sound of Music with Regine Velasquez sporting a faux-hawk and heart choker instead of a nun’s habit.

2. So much had changed in terms of child-rearing within the last few decades. There were several scenes here where adults would use force to make the children follow their will (e.g. the yaya played by Tita Winnie Cordero would grab and pull a young girl who didn’t want to go to school). Today, these things would easily fall under child abuse (hello Bantay Bata!). Our elders were able to get away with a lot back then, no?

3. The dad (played by Christopher de Leon, naturally) felt the need to look for a mother to his kids because: a) he didn’t know what tie would match his suit, b) he always woke up to the sound of his kids screaming their lungs out, c) as one of his friends put it, “Kelangan mo maghanap ng matinong babae na mag-aalaga sa’yo”. Which all begged the question, did he really need a spouse or a maid?

(No wonder Tita Shawie threw a bitch fit in Madrasta: “You’re absolutely right. Yan lang ang tingin mo sa akin. Taga-handa ng isusuot mo, ng kakainin mo. Taga-ayos sa bahay mo. Taga-salo sa mga problema mo.” I guess some things never changed.)

4. One of the best things in watching these old movies was a look back at the fashion during that time. Some of my favorite looks here were the mosaic top and black leather pants (and the perennial heart choker, of course) worn by Regine in the audition scene, the black baby doll dress with zippered red lips on the breast area matched with tattered tights (her idea of sexy when the bar manager said that her show needed “konting landi”), the high-waisted pants worn by the guys (with the belt area way above the belly button), and Bobby Andrews’ head scarf which looked like a cross between Ms. Celia Rodriguez and Madam Auring. Noted for next year’s Halloween.

5. Bing Loyzaga (who else?) played the wicked third party signaled by the dark eye shadow that covered the entirety of her eyelids (as if her flaring nostrils weren’t a giveaway). She was supposedly the evil one because she was cultured (she took the kids to a museum and they found her entire explanation on national painters really boring), she had pit stains in one scene, and she got mad when the kids wanted her to peel the shrimp for them (also, when they requested for sukang may bawang as a substitute for lemon butter sauce). Apparently, the fondness for art and the idea of independence was too elitist and therefore not mother material.

6. There were so many unintentionally hilarious lines in the movie but these were my favorites:

• “Bakit ka bibili ng alarm clock eh sa gabi naman ang trabaho mo?” (Collective groan from BPO associates.)

• “Miss Barubal! Miss Barubal!!” (Regine calling her landlady because that was her actual name.)

• “Kilala mo ba si Mickey Mouse? Diba lagi siyang hinahabol ng pusa?” (Huh? Sino? Si Hello Kitty?)

• “Ang alam ko sa butter palaman lang yan sa tinapay eh.” (Another point against lemon butter sauce.)

• “Ang trabaho mo tutor lang meaning glorified alalay.” (That’s why it’s always important to check the job description before applying.)

7. Do you still remember Kim delos Santos? Raven Villanueva? Mumay Santiago? Graciaaa? Welcome to the oldies club!

8. There was one touching moment when the kids were talking about their fears of somebody replacing their real mom. The youngest one even cried, “Sana hindi na lang kinuha ni God si Mommy.” So many realistic issues here that could have been explored in a much better movie (see Madrasta).

9. I loved how Regine was like the Pied Piper who turned tantrum-throwing brats into obedient angels with just her magical voice, all the problems vanishing after every musical number. One rendition of You Are My Song (of course I sang along) resolved all the issues and they lived happily ever after.

10. Oh, and the movie’s last line was Christopher asking Regine to change her blue nail color. To match her pink maid’s uniform, perhaps?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: CAMP SAWI (Irene Villamor, 2016)

image

SPOILER ALERT!!

(Watch the movie before reading this and then let’s discuss. Enjoy it first. Go!)

My notes on Camp Sawi:

1. If I were to create a custom pain scale (you know, the one that doctors used to determine how unbearable your gastritis was even if you were already as pale as Edward Cullen), I would probably place having a broken heart in between a bony impacted wisdom tooth extraction and getting stuck in EDSA traffic on a Monday rush hour morning.

The physical, mental, and emotional anguish of a heartbreak really takes its toll especially on the abandoned party (read: tangang umaasa pa rin) and everyone knows that it usually takes forever to get through the real stages of grief: 1) Nasaktan, 2) Niloko, 3) Iniwan, 4) Umiyak, 5) Nagdusa, 6) Nag-Let Go, 7) Nag-Move On, 8) Nagbago, 9) Sumaya, 10) Gumanda.

2. In this light and lovely comedy that would probably end up as my favorite guilty pleasure this year, brokenhearted women could find solace and redemption in a fictional boot camp (shot in gorgeous Bantayan Island, Cebu City) where sodium-free meals were specially-prepared to avoid further depression, phones and Facebook were deemed useless due to lack of any signal (“only Mother Nature!”), nightly bonfires were held to destroy the remaining memories of your tormentor (“if you want to sunog anything”), and group activities (yoga sessions, morning jogs, film viewing of the classic Sharon-Robin starrer Maging Sino Ka Man, open forums) were conducted to assist in the moving on process.

With the popularity of hugot films of late, this type of resort would actually be a lucrative franchise. Investors, anyone?

3. Remember that brilliant opening in Up that followed the beginning and tragic end of Carl and Ellie’s love story? This movie came close to recreating that sequence, except that nobody died but Bridgette’s (Bela Padilla) poor heart. Those first ten minutes covered the entire gamut of a failed relationship and its tragic aftermath (stalking an ex on social media to check the new partner, baliwan mode while getting drunk, Google search of “how to heal a broken heart”). Bela was just so good in this role that it made me forget how much she struggled in the recent I America. She clearly had the best scenes in the movie:

• bargaining for ten more minutes on the phone (“kasi ten years kita tinawag na babe eh”)

• bitterly saying lines like “Sino bang brokenhearted ang maganda? Sasaksakin ko!”

• the pig-out scene with Camp Master Louie (Sam Milby) complete with loud munching and reminiscent of Meg Ryan’s orgasm sequence in When Harry Met Sally (“I’ll have what she’s having!”)

• endlessly ranting on getting dumped for not being Chinese (“Sampung taon kami nag-celebrate ng Chinese New Year. Hindi ba niya nakita ang mata ko?”)

4. I really liked the millennial character Jessica (Yassi Pressman) and how her life was always in relation to a pop culture event (on her breakup: “It actually hurt more when Zayn left One Direction”, on her gay boyfriend: “I didn’t know! Did you see Bruce Jenner?”). Instead of being annoying, she was just so charming throwing lines like, “He’s really old. Like ka-age mo old”.

As an old person myself, I did feel a bit happy seeing her receive her comeuppance when Bridgette retorted, “Bata ka pa. Marami ka pang makikilalang bakla.”

5. Parents, please do not bring your kids to this movie. The theme and content aren’t for them anyway. It just felt a bit uncomfortable that there were kids watching when they showed the implied shower fellatio scene. Bring your husbands instead since I’m sure they will at least enjoy ogling at the bikini bodies in full display. Or in my case, wondering how these beautiful women achieved their perennial rosy white cheeks.

6. At this point in her career, Arci Muñoz could do no wrong. As the rocker chick Gwen aka Lovejoy (self-proclaimed Kilabot ng Altura), she was endearing even while getting wasted and throwing up on fresh sheets. Her little girl voice was really funny given that it was coming out of this scorching hot woman’s body and everything she said regardless of sense connected with the audience (“Kelangan ko uminom kasi ang panget mo!”, “Kinukumutan mo ko, pang may boypren yun!”). Her character even asked the exact same question I had about Louie being seen everywhere (“Understaffed ba kayo?”).

That lovely singing voice and song, though. Wow.

Also, seeing Ramona Thornes wearing a Ramones shirt was pure genius.

7. The wild drunk scene with Bridgette and Gwen was already worth the price of admission. I had never laughed so hard hearing things that would only sound funny coming from two drunk women:

• “Kapag Chinese kuripot!” “Hindi! Kapag Chinese masipag, walang holiday!”

• “Hindi lahat ng nag-e-English taga-England, tanga! Minsan taga-Makati lang.”

8. I wonder if this would have worked better as a series instead, along the lines of Orange Is the New Black. There were just so many stories that needed enough time to breathe: the mistress Clarisse (Andi Eigenmann), Joan (Kim Molina) and the untimely death of her fiancé, the chubby girl left by her chubby boyfriend after he lost ten pounds (and resorted to baking to mend her broken heart, familiar no?), and the only gay guy in camp whose heart was full of regrets. Even Louie needed a bit more back story other than he wanted to help these people overcome their sadness. It was hard to feel for all of them and their sob stories when they were mere strangers.

9. New forms of catharsis in Pinoy cinema: jumping off a cliff as a leap of faith, the undying love of videoke (this time set to Regine Velasquez’s Dadalhin), and women stripping off (almost) everything to swim in the beach (ala Chris Martinez’s 100).

10. “Ang mga panget kapag nagkajowa sobrang blessing at kapag iniwan naman ay isang sumpa.” Aray ko beh!

11. Somebody asked me recently how one would know when a person’s already over (or close to moving on from) an ex and the last few moments of the movie perfectly encapsulated my response.

Some people would fear bumping into an ex in a public place (especially with a new partner), but that would be the ultimate test. Sure, it might still sting a bit but instead of digging up the past, if you’re able to ask “Kumusta ka? Ok ka lang ba? Masaya ka ba?” without any form of bitterness or resentment, then you wouldn’t need to book another summer in Camp Sawi.

Welcome back to the real world and get excited for your new “balang araw”.

12. Seriously, is there a place similar to Camp Sawi right now? I already have a list of names that I will recommend it to. 😊

Rating: ★★★★☆

MOVIE REVIEW: THE CHOICE (Ross Katz, 2016)

12742088_10153918349773544_1728884890746889514_n
SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Choice:

1. Nicholas Sparks movies should now be classified as cinematic junk food, alongside Michael Bay blockbusters and Adam Sandler comedies. They have low nutritional brain value, usually with excessive cheese or sugar, and should never be consumed in high doses unless you want severely clogged arteries. I guess that’s also why we only get one (or max two) of them every year to enjoy. Anything more than that would be lethal.

2. This one followed the same Sparks formula from beginning to end and your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance level for cornball entertainment and three-hankie weepie conflicts. Here’s a Sparks movie checklist for reference:

• Usually set in a Southern town, preferably a coastal village (increasing the chances of a sappy boat ride scene, fyi, Ikaw with Sharon Cuneta and Ariel Rivera did it much better)

• Two young lovers that are direct opposites will still fall in love with each other and undergo self-realization and acceptance (most likely with a love triangle or square, for them to fight for their love)

• Rain, lots and lots of rain, where our lovers will run in, make tampisaw, heavily kiss or fornicate under without any fear of getting pneumonia

• Love notes and love letters will still be used in this time of iMessage and emails because they are just so romantic

• The vehicle of choice would be a pick-up truck or a motorcycle because they are darn masculine and sexy

• Possible meet-up at a town fair and may include a ferris wheel ride as needed

• Empty platitudes that the viewers can quote and tweet about after

• Lastly, any form of tragedy that will be introduced in the third act to ensure a downpour of tears (death through leukemia, cancer, Alzheimer’s, a car accident, war, state of coma)

3. It was funny seeing a religious girl (with a boyfriend) talk about her faith and then flirt with another guy who’s also in a relationship. Since the movie was asking us to root for these destined lovers, we were asked to hate on the faithful boyfriend for being busy in his work as a doctor. Are you kidding? This was just hypocrisy at its finest.

4. The best part of the movie were the really cute dogs, whether they were the basket of puppies or the fully-grown pets. One thing I learned was that you should never name the fresh litter because it would be hard to give them up for adoption. This should be good news for my future puppies especially since I usually give them generic names like Bubbles or Spot regardless of gender or actual spots on their skin.

5. I sobbed my eyes out when the line “I wish I could breathe for you” was uttered. And then the puka shell chimes signaled a change of fate and I started cheering with the rest of the audience. Pure cheese, I’m warning you.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆