BEYOND THE MARK (Mark Bautista, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

When news came out that Mark Bautista would finally address the rumours surrounding his sexuality in a juicy tell-all memoir, I had mixed feelings that included: 1) coming out is now a cash cow? (nakakahiya naman kay Matt Bomer), 2) wow, that’s really brave of him (although admittedly, he’s no longer at the peak of his career), 3) which other celebrities will he name-drop? (aside from the obvious ones, hello Fafa!), and 4) I hope it wouldn’t just be one big black book of secrets.

Fortunately, there was more to it other than the controversial chapter(s) reserved until the latter part of the book (and even more content relative to the recent crop of local celebrity bios). It was interesting to read his anecdotes about growing up as a confused kid and his struggles before becoming a successful artist (I especially liked his touching story about winning Php500 on a radio trivia contest and the instant ramen shopping spree that he and his family made with the cash prize huhu!). There was obviously more to him other than his sexuality so it was a bit jarring when it suddenly turned into a salacious confessional that wouldn’t seem out of place on the pages of Fashion Pulis.

The book felt a bit rushed (too many typos including a couple of references to “A Night for a Star”) and needed a bit more polish (after discussing his win in that contest, it jumped a full decade into his London career; plus too many mundane, rambling details like the diss on East Avenue General Hospital). The supposedly revelatory chapters didn’t really go into too much detail (except for the Friendshift one that would only come as a surprise if you never watched The Buzz). I also found it a bit odd that he had pictures of him in various states of undress between chapters even while discussing serious topics like, say, his newfound Christianity.

Overall though, it was still an honest and refreshing read about a local celebrity that just wanted to be open and free and ultimately accepted and loved unconditionally. So who’s next?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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CAN THIS BE LOVE (Jose Javier Reyes, 2005)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Can This Be Love:

1. I recently had a discussion with a friend who used to work for Star Cinema regarding that studio’s process of churning out stories for ABS-CBN’s roster of artists (meaning projects were custom-made for hot stars or popular love teams). It was very much evident in this movie that was obviously created to showcase the winners of Star Circle Quest Batch 1, primarily grand winner Hero Angeles and runner-up Korean sensation Sandara Park. Sadly, what could have been an interesting take on cultural differences was hobbled by rom-com tropes and the limited range of the leads.

2. It wasn’t a surprise that Hero won SCQ because he had a little bit of everything going for him: the F4 circa Meteor Garden hair, the deep dimples pre-Alden Richards, the moreno skin unusual in an industry (and nation) obsessed with glutathione, and a great sob story to boot. As Ryan, he struggled a lot in his dramatic scenes where he mostly shouted his lines and acted like a complete bitch (even to Sandara’s character, Daisy). It certainly didn’t help that his uneven Mary Kay foundation that stopped mid-neck and horrible lip gloss and liner made me laugh every time the camera focused on his face.

3. Hindi naman nagpakabog si Sandara with her cosplay every day look with matching purple eyeshadow, pink blush, red lipstick combo. Thankfully the role didn’t require much from her except to fill the Pambansang Krung-Krung bill so she was okay just looking and acting silly. Her genuine challenge in speaking and understanding Filipino (“Slow down please!”) made her more endearing.

4. The pair’s love story started from a text message that was sent incorrectly through their Nokia 3310s. And here I thought the “Sorry, wrong send” message only worked if you were trying to make papansin from your deadma crush or happy in another relationship ex.

5. Roderick Paulate played Ryan’s landlord and provided much needed comic relief. He was in full Kumander Gringa mode by way of Maricel Soriano in any of her babaeng bakla roles (which was basically 80% of her filmography).

6. Ryan being the typical Pinoy was fuming mad when he read Daisy’s paper titled “What’s Wrong With Filipinos” but had no problems showing his prejudice against Koreans. Or maybe he really just had anger issues since he threw a hissy fit when Daisy visited him while he was in the midst of terrible constipation and even called her “Hoy” after she walked out. He was very patola to girls that I actually wondered if he really liked Daisy, especially after referencing Tito Boy Abunda and The Buzz.

7. Wait, Daisy’s Korean so she had to eat noodles all day every day? Or was she just required to eat them because they were different varieties of Tekki Asian Classics? (More product placement alert: BNY Jeans and Globe Autoload Max).

8. In one scene, Eugene Domingo (as Daisy’s landlord) mentioned President Magsaysay to Ryan and he was completely clueless, presumably because he was taking up Nursing. What?! He didn’t have any Philippine History classes in grade school or high school? Please.

9. Music video montage galore (I think I counted four!) and that didn’t even include the resort scene where kids danced to Sandara’s In or Out song.

10. Most cringe-worthy (aka my favorite LOL) scene:

Ryan: “How do you say ‘I love you’ in Korean?”
Daisy: “Saranghae.”
Ryan: “Saranghae.”
Daisy: “This is not the end yet, right?”
Ryan: “Oo, this is not the end. Sasamahan pa kita sa airport.”

I kid you not.

11. What was up with that rushed scrapbook ending? Naubusan ng budget so plane ticket na lang yun Korea trip? Tapos wedding invite na agad? Anyare sa Korean family vs Pinoys conflict? Argh! Pass me the kimchi.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆