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: ★★★★☆

MR. & MRS. CRUZ (Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Mr. & Mrs. Cruz:

1. As a huge fan of the Before Trilogy (Sunrise, Sunset, Midnight) and even That Thing Called Tadhana, I’m not averse to talky (and sometimes cerebral) romance films where the audience basically listens in on a couple having conversations about life and love and relationships and literature and cinema and music and food and even any mundane stuff that can serve as a possible source for an emotional hugot. It takes a consistently smart screenplay and incredibly talented actors to keep people glued to the screen and not make them wish that they never get stuck on an island with these characters.

At around the first hour mark when Gela (Ryza Cenon) and Raffy (JC Santos) were having their nth Cliff’s Notes discussion of Romeo and Juliet, I was already busy checking my phone for the cheapest flights to Puerto Princesa.

2. It was tough to stay invested in their love story when the song that was played upon their meet cute was Freestyle’s Before I Let You Go (talk about a doomed relationship). No amount of convincing (their Valentine’s Day hotel room number, their matching curls and the idea that couples look alike after being together for a long time, the obvious metaphor of him saving her life after a Heimlich maneuver, and even their shared adventurousness in eating the local delicacy tamilok) could make me believe that they were destined to end up with each other. Besides, Raffy owned a pair of neon peach swimming trunks. Very, very fishy.

3. I was actually okay with everything up until the unnecessary twist (of fate) slash big reveal in the third act that just plucked us out of reality. It was disappointing to see Sigrid Bernardo, one of my fave local directors, relying on yet another gimmick to end a love story (hello Kita Kita!). At least walang nasagasaan this time, especially considering the beach setting.

4. To be fair, JC and Ryza were completely charming in their roles and when they were provided with really sharp dialogue (my favorite was that entire discussion on commitment and the formality/legality/security of marriage), they just knocked it out of the park. Both of them also made the most out of their drunk breakdown scenes (“I found Nemo, but I didn’t find myself”) which should be screened in acting workshops for Star Magic and GMA Artist Center talents.

5. I was a bit bothered that Raffy and Gela only brought one backpack each for their weekend trip. I spent three days in El Nido (looking even lovelier here btw) and brought a medium-sized luggage with half the contents of my closet. Gela’s stuff included around six classic novels (yes, one was Romeo and Juliet). When would she even find the time to read all of them considering that she booked guided tours as well?

On a different note, I really liked her insight that we should re-read our faves because they would be subject to a different interpretation given our maturity and experiences in life. Let me dig up my old issues of Liwayway.

6. It wasn’t lost on me that one of the couples in that tour resembled Ogie Alcasid and Michelle van Eimeren. Our tourism slogans of Wow Philippines and It’s More Fun in the Philippines weren’t for naught. Also, Dido dela Paz as one half of the Golden Couple continued to provide great work, coming off the heels of his critically-lauded performance in Respeto.

7. So who lost that wedding gown sa batuhan during one of the movie’s early scenes? Please tell me that was just an illusion because I could not stand littering in our tourist spots.

8. I felt bad that some of the good jokes were literally lost in translation. When Raffy tried to be funny by replying with “Minikaniko ni Monico ang makina ni Monica”, the subtitle reflected it as “pulled a MacGyver” which didn’t really make a lot of sense. But then how would one even translate that?

9. That disgusting suka scene omg. I would probably avoid oatmeal for the next few months (who am I kidding, does my double chin even look like I eat oatmeal?). Bonus crotch shot though so…

10. I laughed really hard when Raffy mentioned that everything happens for a reason and then started telling the story of his ex who was a nurse that taught him first aid. I was reminded of my ex who was also a nurse that taught me the wonders of sushi. Both life-saving, I tell you.

11. Okay so they didn’t remember that they actually met a few years back in Palawan? Try Memo Plus Gold, kids. What was more unforgivable was that they never even bothered to re-dub the part where Ryza had a voiceover and said the word “trud-jedy”. Watch your back, Maja!!

12. Why would Raffy even know a brief hack that could turn his underwear into a bikini top? Even worse, it was a used pair of undies that he just removed on the boat (butt exposure alert!). Why does hygiene have to go out the window for a supposedly romantic gesture? Did the phrase “smell of love in the air” actually refer to the scent of bayag? Medyo eww.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆