KALEL, 15 (Jun Lana, 2019)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

“Kalel ba talaga ang pangalan mo? Interesting name.” Tama ka baks. Ang ganda na yan din ang totoong pangalan ni Superman (na tumba sa kryptonite) tapos sa Hebrew naman ay “voice of God” na ang meaningful considering na anak siya dito ng pari.

Grabe minahal ko ang pamilyang ‘to kasi relatable kahit sobrang flawed nila kaya alam mo na totoong mga tao at hindi caricatures sa pelikula. Iyak-tawa ako sa bonding nila habang nag-iinuman at nung eksena na inalis ng Ate niya yung handcuffs.

Napakahusay nina Jaclyn Jose, Elora Españo, at Gabby Padilla. Pero ang star ng Pasko ay si Elijah Canlas. Ramdam na ramdam ko ang galit niya sa mundo habang paliit ito nang paliit (kasabay ng kumikitid na frames).

Ang linis nung editing ng sequence na pag-ungol ng jowa to pag-iyak ng shuas na Ate to pagtawa ng kaibigan. Tapos ang powerful nung pagdura sa dulo. With this and John Denver Trending, mukhang 2019 ang year ng nihilistic endings for youths in Pinoy films. Lavet!

Forte talaga ni Lana ang ganitong human drama. Dami kong nagustuhan na directorial choices niya dito. Ang dami din nasabi ng pelikula in less than two hours. Sana mag-focus na siya sa ganito at hindi na gumawa ng mga Haunted Mansion… oops!! (Ay di pala niya mababasa ‘to kasi ni-block niya ako on social media hahaha!)

P.S. I will never look at Oreos the same way again huhuhu.

Rating: ★★★★★

GOYO: ANG BATANG HENERAL (Jerrold Tarog, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral:

1. One of the first Tagalog poems I learned as a kid was taught to me by my grandfather (be forewarned, it wasn’t one of his shining moments) and it involved the bad boy of Philippine History (no, not Ace Vergel nor Robin Padilla). It went something like: “Andres Bonifacio, a-tapang a-tao. A-putok a-baril, hindi a-atakbo. A-putol a-utin, a-takbo a-tulin.” This humorous take on a national hero might sound disrespectful to some, but it was exactly how I felt with this ongoing Araling Panlipunan Trilogy of Jerrold Tarog that started with the puñeta-filled Heneral Luna.

Both films seemed to have been made as easily-digestible History nuggets because nobody really wanted to sit through a boring lecture. And so we got an abrasive, menacing portrayal of a general in the first film who would deliver some occasionally amusing Cesar Montano quips that the audience could laugh at while this second one had a subservient and confused young general who left a trail of broken hearts (and panties) like he was the first official fuccboi of the country.

2. I never knew that Gregorio del Pilar (Paulo Avelino, medyo malamya) was such a bland and uninteresting character whose life didn’t really merit a biopic. I’d always thought he was this glorious hero who took his last stand (and not a literal one) in the Battle of Tirad Pass. I’m sure there was more to him as the youngest general other than being a Don Juan.

Unfortunately, the fictional (right?) Joven Hernando (Arron Villaflor, who sounded like his testicles hadn’t descended yet) summed up the first hour best when he asked “Bakit puro romansa at panunuyo?”. It was obvious that Goyo (and in turn Avelino, with his gorgeous brown eyes that sparkled in the sunlight; wait, why wasn’t he moreno?) was so swoon-worthy that women would actually have a shade showdown while comparing themselves to mangoes (“Ako hinog, ikaw totoong bulok” or something equally icky to that effect). But shouldn’t there have been more to him than that?

I walked out of the theater with the takeaway that his only contribution in our rich history was a last minute realization that he had been Emilio Aguinaldo’s (Mon Confiado, great as always) lapdog. Yun na yun?

Seriously, Goyo the character couldn’t even serve as the crucial voiceover (read: voice of reason) in his own film.

3. I felt bad that the talented Carlo Aquino (who played Vicente Enriquez) couldn’t secure a lead role in this franchise (was it because he looked so cute and tiny like a keychain?). I did like the underlying homoerotic tension between him and Joven (because why else was he so protective of him?). And was I the only one that sensed this blooming “bromance” between Joven and Juan del Pilar (Carlo Cruz)? Ooh, a love triangle! (Or was that just some wishful thinking?)

Side note: That tampisaw sa batis scene. Not complaining at all.

4. I honestly couldn’t stand the acting of the kid that played Angelito so I wouldn’t even bother mentioning his name here. His lines consisted merely of cries of anguish/despair (“Kuyaaaaahhh!”, “Tamaaaah naaaahh!”) and he still couldn’t deliver them properly. Didn’t he learn anything from his Kuya Manuel Bernal (Art Acuña)? Awoooooo!!

5. Miss Granny reference: I was a bit disappointed that after all those pictures taken by the same photographer (Jojit Lorenzo) of the Forever Young Portrait Studio, Goyo didn’t turn into a Goyito (given his age though, if he turned fifty years younger, then he’d still be a sperm and this would have been a completely different kind of movie).

6. Bitterness 101 – Exhibit A:

Felicidad (Empress Schuck) to ex-jowa: “Kumusta?”

Goyo: “Mabuti! Ikaw?”

Felicidad: (deadma) (walk-out)

Move on, move on din pag may time. (Uso pa ba ‘to?)

7. Was the slang term “goyo” or “nagoyo” actually after the flirtatious general? I need the real etymology of this word please! My futile Google search led me to “weneklek” and “kukurikapu” instead.

8. Every peso of the movie’s reported Php160M budget was in full display here with its lush cinematography (that amazing shot of the troops marching on the mountainside during sunset, the magical Shape of Water-like underwater scene) and great production design.

9. I was excited to see the Battle of Tirad Pass especially with its dramatic twist of a local Igorot betraying the Philippine troops, but it didn’t really showcase anything interesting. It was just a lengthy sequence of some Pinoy mestiso actors pretending to be a bunch of American soldiers running around until they finally annihilated the locals. It was also odd that they continued to mine humor in such a serious situation (“Nakagat lang yan ng langgam sa bayag!”, “May bangin dyan!” and then a couple of Pinoy soldiers comically fell off a cliff, “Kam! Amerikan Welkam!”).

Even del Pilar’s death felt very anticlimactic (and un-heroic). Like a Superman film where Clark Kent never really wore his red trunks and cape because he was better off as a regular person. (But we paid to watch Superman, didn’t we?)

10. Burning questions:

• How long could one survive munching on just sugar cane? (Because you know, inflation.)

• The soldier named Daclan was actually Matt Daclan, right?

• Why couldn’t Apolinario Mabini (Epy Quizon) get his own movie? Echapwera na naman?

• During the mid-credits scene with a latex-faced, older Aguinaldo (still played by Confiado), why was the older Manuel Quezon on the poster played by a latex-faced TJ Trinidad? Were they not confident enough with the acting skills of Benjamin Alves?

• Wait, was the film trying to equate Emilio Aguinaldo with our current President? So did that make Goyo a misguided, egotistical, famewhore general who loved hogging the limelight (read: mahilig magpa-pogi)? Now I get my complete lack of interest.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (Rian Johnson, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Please tell me I wasn’t the only one totally shipping Kylo Ren and Rey. There was just so much sexual tension between them (good vs evil!) that their awesome lightsaber battle (set in scorching crimson red, of course!) felt very much like the kinkiest foreplay. They wouldn’t even need to bother with Skype because they could easily see and talk to each other via their minds (so Kylo just happened to be topless at one point, really?). My only concern was that even with the reveal that Rey’s parents were nobodies, they could totally switch this up a few films from now. Let’s not forget that the greatest love team in this series ended up in incest (still not as eww-worthy as parts I-III, though).

Daming ganap. Even with multiple storylines and a 2.5 hour running time, in the end nothing much really happened and they just basically rebooted the entire franchise. It reminded me of these RPG video games with several side quests that although entertaining only served as a distraction to the main story. I guess it was a bit understandable though since the main story simply revolved around a Resistance ship trying to get away from the First Order. How many ways could you make a ship running out of fuel exciting, right? On the other hand, did we really need that lengthy casino scene?

Also, why did they have to make Luke Skywalker such a bitter, grumpy old man? I could imagine the crushed hearts of fanboys that waited a long time only to see him nonchalantly toss away his lightsaber (was that meant to be funny?). In one scene, he was even supposed to kill a young boy (horrors!). Why the sudden change? Was it because he kept drinking that spoiled-looking green milk from a non-cow creature? (Sabagay, an upset stomach creates a monster out of me as well.)

So those shiny crystal animals just happened to lead the group out to safety? How convenient! And I wasn’t a fan of those critters that were obviously included for easy laughs. Besides, was there anything funnier than a seemingly dead Princess Leia suddenly regaining consciousness and flying ala Superman in outer space back to her ship?

I felt bad that Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro were underutilized in this movie to give way for the Finn and Rose love story. It was a fun and cute caper, but that kiss generated as much heat as winter in Siberia. I was also a bit distracted because Rose looked very much like Ate Kimmy Go Donghae. Every time she would abruptly show up on screen, I expected her to scream, “May sale sa Lazada!!”.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (Zack Snyder, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:

1. I entered the cinema with incredibly low expectations because of brutal reviews from critics and terrible feedback from friends that camped out to watch the very first screening. I was also never fascinated with this match-up and saw it more like Alien vs Predator, a lame cash cow that pitted two popular characters for the sake of seeing which one had the bigger balls (or mandibles). Besides, when it was a battle between good vs good (or evil vs evil), would there even be a winner? When the movie was over, all I could think of was that it wasn’t bad at all. (Even better, it was no Man of Steel.)

2. If I was clueless on the Marvel Universe, I was even more lost in this DC Universe. I would not be geeking out and pointing various differences between the comic books and the movie because I really didn’t know anything, except from what I had seen in previous Superman and Batman movies. I was even puzzled because my idea of Wonder Woman was the red, white, and blue clad Lynda Carter with her magic lasso. Seriously, how many more times would we see another version of Bruce Wayne’s parents getting killed? Remember when Deadpool mentioned that he was getting confused with the timelines of X-Men (“McAvoy or Stewart?”), I felt the exact same way as soon as the flashback started.

3. At least the promised showdown didn’t disappoint. It clearly showed a battle between god and man, one with superhero powers and a major weakness and the other a rich mortal armed with hi-tech gadgets. When they started fighting and destroying buildings, I finally understood why the people hated these two. They were just major nuisances that disturbed the peace of their city.

4. There were two scenes where characters went for a dip even with their shoes on and it really bothered me. It would only take a minute to remove them. Why subject yourselves to super kachichas?

5. A lot of people hated Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor and called him the movie’s Jar Jar Binks. I think the biggest difference was that he was really meant to be an annoying man-child (I loved the scene where he was giving a speech and completely forgot his entire point) while JJB was George Lucas’ failed attempt to create another Ewok. Eisenberg was good here and in one scene even proved that he could out-snot Viola Davis. I did not see him growing up as Kevin Spacey, though.

6. When Jeremy Irons showed up as Alfred, I actually thought that he was an old Robert Downey, Jr. I swear I thought it was an unprecedented crossover.

7. I didn’t know the rest of the characters shown for the future Justice League but I was excited to see Ezra Miller playing the Flash (although this character would always be Dawson’s father to me, you know John Wesley Shipp that was rumored to have a romantic relationship with James Van der Beek). I also recognized Silas Stone (his name was on the computer screen) as the brilliant Joe Morton. Olivia Pope should be proud.

8. Regardless of the ending, Zack Snyder obviously favored Superman more. Now I really understood those sad Ben Affleck memes and videos. His Batman was just depressed and didn’t have the necessary angst for the role (like he was still suffering from a tortured relationship with J.Lo or carrying a guilt for possibly cheating on Jennifer Garner). For a rich guy, he couldn’t even ask his butler to remove his car cover.

Henry Cavill, on the other hand, could still barely act, but was shown as the real hero even if he had enough time to bask in the glory of his billowing cape while the people on the roof were close to drowning. He even had a scene where people surrounded him and touched him like a god (although I was sure that even James Reid would be treated that way if he stood in the middle of the activity center in ATC).

9. Wonder Woman clearly knew how to accentuate her assets (considering that she was played by a previous Miss Universe candidate). All of Gal Gadot’s dresses showed her cleavage and/or back. But nothing beats the beauty of Lois Lane (Amy Adams) who always came first in terms of saving, regardless if people were dying everywhere. She took “ganda mo gurl” to a whole new level.

10. Here are some questions from a self-confessed comic book idiot:

a) How could Superman not hear that there was a bomb in the court room? He couldn’t be that distracted, right?

b) What were the flying taong insekto?

c) Was Wonder Woman a witch if she lived way back in 1918?

d) If Batman knew that Superman’s weakness was kryptonite, why couldn’t he have made a simple bracelet that he could attach to him? (I saw one used in the Supergirl TV series.)

e) Speaking of, how could even Superman fly carrying the kryptonite spear when Lois even had to throw it away because it was seeping his strength?

f) Was Superman the first person to show up in court wearing his underwear outside?

g) Did people hate the movie because “people hate what they don’t understand” or because it had a bummer of an ending (giving Star Cinema another reason to have a requisite happy ending)?

11. No mid-/post-credits sequence. Now that was even more sad than the funeral.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

THE REVENANT (Alejandro G. Iñarritu, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Revenant:

1. Let me begin by saying that I do not hate Leonardo DiCaprio. If anything, I have loved him since he died of hypothermia in my all-time favorite movie Titanic. I would be more than happy to see him finally win an Oscar especially with his level of commitment in every role. So when I say that I wasn’t completely impressed with his crawling and grunting (sorry, I meant acting) in this movie, it’s all coming from a place of love (like a father telling his son that a B+ in Art won’t cut it because he is a straight-A student).

2. Leo has done much better work in his past films (Wolf of Wall Street, Revolutionary Road, Catch Me If You Can) and although some of these roles also required a certain level of intensity, he didn’t really go overboard in any of them. All of his acting tics were in full display in this movie that it bordered on camp (I pictured Christopher de Leon in his late 90’s movies: nostrils flaring, mouth frothing, full-on kunot-noo acting). Sure, Leo was in pain all-throughout and had his throat slashed so he couldn’t do much except moan, but his performance really didn’t work for me. For the record, he even crawled much better in the Wolf scene when he was loaded with Quaaludes.

3. But enough about him, let’s discuss the movie with its beautiful flowing waters, picturesque snowcapped mountains, and perfectly lit images that I just wanted to screencap and use as my phone’s wallpaper. If anyone here is deserving of an Oscar, it would definitely be Emmanuel Lubezki (whom I loved since A Little Princess and is on track to get his third consecutive Best Cinematography Award). He could win all of the awards every year and I wouldn’t be complaining.

4. After seeing everything that happened to Leo in this movie, I have further lowered camping on my bucket list. It was a miracle that he survived all of these: mauled by a bear, fell off a cliff, drowned in rapids, cauterized his throat wound, traveled through a harsh winter landscape, fell off a higher cliff, and slept naked inside a dead horse (this didn’t even include all the shooting). His wounds also magically healed in a matter of hours and days (although there were some juju involved, including a soil spa that worked wonders on his deep lacerations) and even with a twisted ankle, he was running in full speed after a night’s rest.

I therefore conclude that Leo is Superman and I now need further proof that he really froze to death in Titanic.

5. Was it just me or was the dubbing really bad for the Indian characters? The sounds didn’t match the movements of the mouth at all.

6. Leo ate a live fish and that was fine because I love sushi, but I wondered why he ate the raw bison meat when there was a lot of fire around him. I’m just thankful that I haven’t been that hungry.

7. I pitied all the horses that were killed in this movie. Gunshots, arrows, and cliff-diving. I hope they had insurance. The horse that was also used as a transient house should have charged rent.

8. Ate Vi’s final scene in Ekstra >>> Leo’s final scene in The Revenant

Rating: ★★★☆☆