NOW THAT I HAVE YOU (Laurenti Dyogi, 2004)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Ito yung John Lloyd Cruz-Bea Alonzo MRT romance. Serendipitous sana ang love story kung hindi stalker si Betsy. Nakakasabay lang niya every day si Michael eh nawala na sa sarili at feeling soulmate na. May fantasy sequence pa si loka na ginaya ang Titanic, except that sa Super Ferry ata sila nakasakay. At sinundan pa niya talaga ito sa place of work ha. Sana hindi siya na-late at magagalit ang kanyang TL. (Pansin ko lang bakit parang sa same ELJ building/site sila nagtatrabaho? Wala pa masyado budget nun ang Star Cinema?)

Malakas na talaga ang chemistry ng dalawa ever since. Gusto ko rin na wala sila pabebe phase kahit relatively bago pa ang love team. Laplap kung laplap parang totoong mag-jowa. Relatable naman yung pettiness ng pinag-aawayan nila pero medyo nakakairita. Super clingy ni Betchay tapos cheater naman si Michael. Bakit ako mag-root for their toxic relationship?

Si early Nikki Valdez talaga ang isa sa aking spirit animals. Siya yung laging voice of reason na nagde-deliver ng words of wisdom tulad ng “Walang napapala ang pagiging demure!”. Welcome comic relief din kapag nasusuya na ako sa kaartehan ni Betchay na nung nagka-jowa bigla na lang “Ang ganda talaga ng life, no?”.

Best scene yung sa dulo nung natisod si Michael sa MRT station habang tumatakbo kay Betchay. Tumilapon yung bouquet ng roses na dala niya tapos umulan ng isang garden’s worth of petals sa paligid nila. Kabog ang American Beauty. Napaisip nga ako san galing lahat ng yun. Baka yung iba eh from his baduy na floral polo. Florals in Magallanes Station? Groundbreaking!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

MY PERFECT YOU (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

I’m being incredibly generous already considering that I hated the first two-thirds of this movie and even considered walking out because the rom-com part was just too painful to watch.

It somewhat recovered in its final act touching on an interesting subject matter (still iffy on the romanticization of a mental health disorder), but I still had this feeling that Star Cinema wanted to duplicate the success (and formula) of Kita Kita.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published March 14, 2018.)

UNOFFICIALLY YOURS (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2012)

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From the opening sequence that involved a forgettable “laman vs. sabaw” discussion down to the clichéd dialogue we’ve heard in previous movies, you know this one’s hobbled by a weak screenplay.

Trust a gifted director like Cathy Garcia-Molina to create magic out of something formulaic. There was even a brilliant sex sequence guaranteed to elicit laughter for minutes. I didn’t completely buy the chemistry of the leads but they did really good work individually.

John Lloyd Cruz continued to show why he’s the best actor of this generation. He was charming without ever being cloying and he actually helped elevate Angel Locsin’s performance (probably her best work to date).

Overall, this latest romantic-comedy from Star Cinema didn’t really break new ground but damn it, it made me kilig the whole time.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published February 17, 2012.)

A MOMENT IN TIME (Emmanuel Palo, 2013)

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Blatantly ripped-off scenes from other Star Cinema romance movies while wasting its charming leads. It was a classic case of good actors trapped in a really, really bad movie. Why, Star, why?!

The scene where Julia rapped to prove that she was jologs had to be one of the most cringe-worthy scenes in Pinoy cinema this year.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published February 17, 2013.)

STARTING OVER AGAIN (Olivia Lamasan, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Starting Over Again:

1. With a better treatment (and alternate ending), this could have been a great Star Cinema, feel-bad Pinoy movie. It might have been predictable and clunky, but it did have some really good lines and realistic scenes of heartbreak.

2. Toni Gonzaga (as Patty) was effortlessly funny, although she struggled a bit in her dramatic scenes. (Side note: She needs to have her legs insured. They looked amazing and she knew just how to accentuate them.)

As Marco, Piolo Pascual just didn’t seem to exert any effort at all. Was I the only one annoyed by his excessive use of the word “diba” in that confrontation scene? It didn’t help that he sounded more bitchy than hurt. (At least he fared much better in his silent crying scenes.)

3. In all my years of travelling to and from Alabang, I’ve never taken an actual train. Especially since there are hundreds of buses and jeepneys and shuttle services that will drop you in South Station or Metropolis/StarMall. Where is this train and where are its stops?

On a related note, my favorite scene in that sequence was that of Patty getting off a moving bus. It was just too hilarious. And it elicited the expected reactions from the very amused crowd.

4. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Iza Calzado is a brilliant actress. I loved how calm and collected she was during Patty’s confrontation scene with Ginny. Her restraint showed the maturity of her character and her nuanced performance made that scene even more powerful. She also had the best lines in the movie. I wonder why she’s not given the projects she deserves.

5. “A relationship should have the right ingredients: love, trust, and an allowance for mistakes. Love is greater than someone’s failures. In love there is no fear.”

I bawled my eyes out.

And Patty’s line about their non-romantic love:

“Our love may be quiet and boring, but it’s sure.”

Shet. Pass me the tissues.

6. If I were in this movie, I would be Beb played by the dependable Cai Cortez (ok, insert the fat joke here). But really, I saw myself in her character. I would be that one friend who wouldn’t mince words no matter how brutal the message would be; that one friend who would offer you a hug then slap you back to reality.

7. I will forever use these memorable lines in future drinking sessions with relapsing friends:

“Yang hope na yan, lason yan. Parang drugs, nakaka-adik.”

“Adik ka na naman sa pag-asa. Try mo kaya lumaklak ng realidad.”

8. Why do we have this growing trend in local movies where seemingly smart women beg other women to lend or give up their boyfriends/husbands? Icky.

I’m happy to see though that the “third wheel” here wasn’t made to look like a devil in the last act just to justify the break-up and possible happy ending for the leads. Patty was really nice and giving and there was just no reason for Marco not to love her. In fact, she did look like Mama Mary.

9. And here’s my message to all my exes (parang ang dami): “I can never un-love you. I just love you in a different way now.” (Sob.)

10. I really hated that wood-crashing scene. It felt straight out of a Wenn Deramas movie. Worst possible deus ex machina.

11. After Forever and a Day, I wonder if Star Cinema will ever have the balls again to end films the way they really should.

I’m sure a lot of people loved the cameos and they felt the need to give its audience a hopeful ending. In real life though, it would take years before Ginny will get over Marco, more years for her to pick up the pieces, and even more years to finally meet the right one. (And that’s already being hopeful.)

12. If the movie ended with Ginny deleting the message and the camera panning out showing Ginny ready to move on with the swelling theme song in the background, I would probably have rated this higher. Maybe they’ll consider that for the DVD? For all the Bebs out there, please?

P. S. Two girls in front of us were taking selfies (with flash) during the closing credits so I gave one of them “sungay”. Made them stop.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published February 14, 2014.)

SA NGALAN NG AMA, INA AT MGA ANAK (Jon Villarin, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sa Ngalan ng Ama, Ina at Mga Anak:

1. Somebody needed to trim his armpit hair.

2. Since the cast included a big star like Daniel Padilla, he got his own love story arc. Unfortunately the girl was not Kathryn Bernardo.

3. I wonder if all the Padilla boys acted the same way. They talked like there was phlegm permanently stuck in their throats. All hammy, too.

4. Mariel Rodriguez got out of bed butt naked and people started giggling. Was it because of the gratuitous nudity?

5. Wait, was that Aljur Abrenica in a Star Cinema movie? Where was his gratuitous nudity?

6. Robin’s constant posturing and pouting in this movie would make him the perfect choice for a local version of Zoolander.

7. Remember those Fernando Poe, Jr. movies where he was invincible to all flying bullets? Here, the entire Padilla clan played Fernando Poe, Jr.

8. Kylie Padilla delivered her lines like she was in a third grade elocution contest where she kept pausing and forgetting her next words.

9. I’ve never seen this many time jumps since Quantum Leap.

10. With all the splattered blood onscreen, I wonder why this movie was not R-18 for excessive violence. It was like a Tarantino film, less the art.

11. I bet BB Gandanghari could have made this Padilla movie more interesting.

12. So a character jumped on a grenade but didn’t get blown to pieces and even got resurrected by an “agimat”. Ehrm.

I’d rather play Flappy Bird.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published February 4, 2014.)

MY CACTUS HEART (Enrico Santos, 2012)

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It was as corny as any Star Cinema formulaic rom-com could be.

Maja Salvador’s talents were wasted as a shrill, overacting animator who fell for a vocalist/waiter with nice abs played by Matteo Guidicelli. You’d be surprised that they were lovers offscreen since they had zero chemistry here.

Everything was cliched and contrived and you could actually hear people groan after every bad punchline (crickets too, in some scenes).

The only bright spot was Rosanna Roces and even she had the humiliating task of smelling Matteo’s armpits. Talk about stinky (or lucky?).

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 29, 2012.)

MUMBAI LOVE: THE MOVIE (Benito Bautista, 2014)

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My notes on Mumbai Love: The Movie:

1. It was hard to take a love story seriously when the lead actor wore more eyeliner than the lead actress.

2. This was no different from a typical Star Cinema movie where the location played a mere backdrop for a travelogue montage.

3. I still think that Solenn Heussaff looked great onscreen and given the right project might actually be a fine actress.

4. And the trend of me not liking a movie with Miles Kanapi continued. I couldn’t blame her though since she was such a committed actress.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published January 24, 2014.)

MISSION UNSTAPABOL: THE DON IDENTITY (Michael Tuviera, 2019)

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Move over, Martin Scorsese! Kinabog ng visual effects team ni Bossing ang ginawang de-aging kay Robert de Niro sa The Irishman. Infer, may effort for authenticity ang pelikula. Sana lang nag-level up din siya from the usual Pinoy slapstick humor.

Nung una ko makita ang trailer nito sabi ko parang Ocean’s movie tapos ganun nga siya. Hirap na ako maniwala na very advanced ang technology abroad to pull off that kind of heist eh sa Pilipinas pa kaya? May pa-Mission Impossible reveal pa sa dulo that didn’t make any sense at all. To be fair, may apparent self-awareness siya about local action films na nakakaaliw.

Bakit halos lahat ng ginaya ng character ni Wally Bayola eh from Star Cinema/ABS? (Very Wenn Deramas ang comedy ha.) Napaisip tuloy ako kung wala ba talagang iconic characters ang GMA. Why not Victor Magtanggol or Kara Mia para mas self-deprecating? Konti lang makakuha ng reference?

Gusto ko yung unang eksena pa lang ni Jake Cuenca eh level 10 na agad ang acting niya. Yung parang hindi na ulit siya mabibigyan ng ibang pelikula ever kaya tinodo na niya lahat. Kahit pag-nguya lang niya ng gum talagang may nuance, may galit. Nagsusumigaw na “May Yahoo! OMG Award ako for Male Kontrabida of the Year mga amateurs!”

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

WRITE ABOUT LOVE (Crisanto Aquino, 2019)

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Probably the biggest surprise of this year’s festival. As in wala akong gana panoorin siya after ko makita ang trailer lalo pa at parang typical hugot romcom. Tapos mukhang Kuya and Bunso levels sina Rocco Nacino at Miles Ocampo (which the film smartly acknowledged). I was so happy to be proven wrong.

Ang lakas ng chemistry nung dalawa. Yung ayoko talaga ng sisig pero mukhang mapapakain ako sa sobrang kilig. Tapos magaling talaga sila pareho umarte. May kanya-kanyang dramatic highlights. Ganda ng pagkagamit sa trope na nasa parehong eksena sila ng mga creations nila.

Nagustuhan ko yung discussions tungkol sa thought processes nila as writers. Ang apt nung reference sa Trip to Quiapo ni Ricky Lee. Alam ko na may taste rin si Ms. Rom-Com kasi ilan sa mga paborito niya ay Got 2 Believe, One More Chance, at That Thing Called Tadhana.

May hawig siya sa Last Fool Show na pinalabas early this year with its stab at formulaic local romance flicks. Natawa ako sa Villegas-Jadaone reference, sa pelikulang “I’m Drunk, I Hate You” at sa pagsingit ng memorable hugot na “Mahal mo ba talaga ako o minahal mo lang ako?”.

Mahusay din dito sina Joem Bascon at kahit si Romnick Sarmenta in a small role. Ang only weak link ay si Yeng Constantino. Di na nga sya mukhang leading lady in a Star Cinema-ish movie tapos di pa marunong umiyak. Parang pinili lang siya kasi singer sa banda yung character nya so kelangan magaling kumanta. Sayang.

My favorite quotes:

• “Ganun naman ang love eh, minsan bullshit.” (Tapos napasubo na lang si Miles ng lettuce wrap haha!)

• “People who love are capable of hurting.” (Tagos!)

• “Nasa pag-revise kasi lumalabas ang ganda ng isinusulat.” (HAHAHAHAHA! Bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan ay pangit.)

Rating: ★★★★☆