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: ★☆☆☆☆

PADDINGTON (Paul King, 2014)

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My notes on Paddington:

1. Why do these foreign movies now start with a disclaimer from the distributor explaining why the version you’re about to watch got mutilated? It’s not like we had a choice to begin with. (Ok, illegal downloads but don’t be such a smart-ass.)

2. I still couldn’t understand why the movie filled with British characters had to be dubbed by local actor Xian Lim. It didn’t add anything to the final product. It wasn’t like Paddington had to say a few Tagalog phrases. He actually ended up sounding like a Pinoy Harry Potter with a wobbly accent. Or a distant relative who lived in London for a few months and suddenly had a bloody faux British accent.

3. The mostly English cast was superb. Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, all it needed was a few more Downton Abbey players. And then there was Nicole Kidman.

4. To be honest, I was baffled by the glowing reviews for this movie. Maybe I was just too old and cranky to watch something so juvenile. I know it was primarily aimed at kids but if your idea of humor was a bear sticking toothbrushes in his ear then licking the earwax off before a human character actually used one to brush his teeth, then you might enjoy this.

5. The trench coat on Paddington reminded me so much of streakers. He could be the nicer cousin of Ted.

6. Two scenes were straight out of the Mission: Impossible movies and I have to say Kidman did it better than Cruise.

7. I liked the bit explaining how parents suddenly become overprotective of their kids. If only the film focused more on the heart instead of the crass.

8. The movie did make me crave for marmalade. Wait, is that different from jam? Or jelly? Either way, I need a jar now.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published February 16, 2015.)

THE MASTER (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)

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Others will be hypnotized, some will be lulled to sleep. Phoenix was Oscar-worthy, though.

In one scene, the people were singing a Tagalog song and a lady was speaking in Filipino. “Kumain lang kayo nang kumain. Alam n’yo ang katabi n’yo si artista yan. Anong pelikula n’yan ha?” OMFG!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published February 10, 2013.)

MINDANAO (Brillante Mendoza, 2019)

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Napaisip ako kung ano ang mas bagay na title para dito kasi parang hindi naman siya accurate na representation ng buong Mindanao. Nabawasan pa ng authenticity kasi Tagalog ang ginamit na main language.

Hindi nag-work for me ang juxtaposition ng dalawang kwento (yung animated folk tale ng magkapatid na Rajah at yung tungkol sa nanay na ang anak ay may cancer, amidst the Maguindanao war), pero interesting and engaging sila separately.

Iba pa rin talaga sa aktingan ang isang Judy Ann Santos. Ang ganda nung kinantahan niya ang anak niya na nagwawala kasi nasasaktan sa injection. Tapos tumigil sa pag-iyak on cue yung bata (ang galing!). Sabay patak ng luha sa kanang mata lang ni Juday. Kaya siya nanalong Best Actress sa Cairo eh.

May pa-dance number pa siya that reminded me of Ate Guy in Tuos. Anyway, grabeng strawberry ice cream yan muntik na ako humagulgol sa sinehan.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MUSMOS NA SUMIBOL SA GUBAT NG DIGMA (Iar Lionel Arondaing, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

Tipid Tip of the Day: Whenever critics describe the story as a slow burn, it’s just their polite way of saying that watching the film may cause drowsiness. If you’ve ever seen a Terrence Malick or Lav Diaz without ever nodding off, then you’ll have no problems with this one.

To be fair, I liked the performances of the lead kids and the beautiful (oftentimes haunting) imagery (sure win for this year’s Balanghai for Cinematography?). I do have a limit on the amount of time I can watch a burning field before it turns from mesmerizing to when will this end.

I think it was an inspired choice to frame the entire thing with religious chanting (prayers/verses from the Quran). Having the characters speak entirely in Tagalog made everything feel less authentic, though.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 8, 2018.)

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: ★★☆☆☆

THE BIG SHORT (Adam McKay, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Big Short:

1. The words Finance, Housing Market, and Wall Street automatically send a signal to my brain to shut down and prevent any possible aneurysm. Sure, I love the smell of money, but anything numbers-related immediately puts me to sleep. The only knowledge I have about the stock market is limited to the Hollywood Stock Exchange where you get to trade virtual movie stocks based on their box office performance. So yes, I do know how to long, short, sell, and cover stocks but an online game doesn’t even come close to the real thing.

2. I loved how this movie treated its audience like newbies (or dummies) to the industry. It took its time to explain terms needed to fully understand the financial crisis and collapse of the housing market. What better way to understand subprime loans than with the help of Margot Robbie drinking champagne in a bubble bath? Or Anthony Bourdain comparing a CDO with his three day old halibut stew? And even Selena Gomez breaking down a synthetic CDO? (I still didn’t completely understand everything but I guess that only made the movie sound smarter.) Take note, this was a comedy. A very funny one.

3. As a person with self-diagnosed ADHD, I didn’t mind the stylistic editing on speed, random images, and crazy montages. Again, numbers meant boring and my short attention span could only take so much.

4. I was surprised that Christian Bale got the sole acting nomination for this film. Don’t get me wrong, he was great as the metal music-loving, glass-eyed Michael Burry, but I thought Steve Carell was so much better as the fidgety, hot-tempered loon Mark Baum. He was loud and obnoxious and yet completely relatable. (I loved how his character as a kid studied the Talmud looking for inconsistencies in the word of God.) Definitely a better performance than in Foxcatcher.

Favorite Mark Baum line:

“I hate it here. Everyone’s walking around like they’re in a fucking Enya video!”

5. When Brad Pitt showed up as the voice of reason Ben Rickert (“If they’re right, people lose homes, jobs, retirement savings, pensions. Just don’t fucking dance”), you realize that there were no heroes in this movie. You might be rooting for these losers (if they were so smart and made money out of something that everyone else didn’t believe in, were they still?), but they were making money out of people’s future miseries.

6. How could you not love a movie where the song Saigo No Iiwaki played in the Japanese restaurant scene? Or maybe you’d know its Tagalog counterpart, Ted Ito’s Ikaw Pa Rin?

All together now…”Nais ko’y makapiling kang muli. Nais ko’y mayakap kahit sa sandali. Kung pangarap ma’y tatanggapin ko. Ikaw pa rin ang iniibig ko.”

Rating: ★★★★★